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The Mark Inside

Blonger Joints in Downtown Denver.

Lou's Turf in Downtown Denver

Map of Denver Sites

Lou's Turf
  1. Croff & Curtis Bldg, 1644 Larimer
  2. Lou's Office, American National Bank Bldg, 17th & Lawrence
  3. D.A.'s Observation Post, Cassidy Hick Wallpaper Co., 250 ft. north on Lawrence
  4. The Lookout, Rolnick Bldg., 17th & Curtis
  5. The Elite Saloon, Stout between 16th & 17th
  6. Fake Stock Exchange, The Denham Bldg., corner of 18th & California

1888: Here's Larimer as Lou would have seen it on his return to town from New Mexico.


1889: The city directory lists a business (Blonger Bros.?) at 1728 Larimer (Lou lives at 1732 Lawrence). 1728 Larimer St. shown below.


And here she is, virtually spruced up a bit:

1728 Larimer

1891: The city directory lists a business at 1744 Larimer (club rooms), Lou lives at Timmerman Block. Blonger Bros. gambling house at 1744 Larimer closed for bunko games.

Boulder Daily Camera, Sept. 26, 1891

Closed by the Police.
DENVER, Sept. 25.—The police board to-day ordered the gambling house of Blonger Bros., 1744 Larimer street, closed. The place is said to be a bunco joint, and the board wishes it understood it is after that sort of thing.

1892: The "Blonger boys" are arrested for facilitating a swindle in their Tourists Club, 1740 Larimer Street.

Rocky Mountain News, August 26, 1922

Both Lou and Sam, together with men named Walker and Phour, were captured and charged with the robbery of C. I. Tolly, a mining engineer and assayer of Longmont, Colo. Tolly had complained to the police that he had come to Denver and had been discussing a money transaction with a friend in the Markham hotel, when two men, who had been listening, approached him and began talking of mining. On the pretense of showing him some ore from Creede, they invited Tolly to walk with them to Larimer Street.
As they passed the Tourists club, the story goes, one of the men asked Tolly if he would mind stepping in for a few minutes. Tolly stood behind one of the men as they engaged with a some others in a friendly game of poker. One of the men drew three aces and a king and turning to Tolly asked him what he would bet on it. Tolly reluctantly replied that if he were playing he would put $100 on it.
The man on the other side of the table made a pretense of taking the bet. Of course, the aces and the king lost. The men then insisted that he pay, and when Tolly attempted to escape they threatened his life if he did not sign over the money. Tolly made out a check for $100 and went back to Longmont. Friends urged him to return to Denver and complain to the police. His complaint resulted in the raid.

Here's the Duff Block on the left, 1744, and 1728. Where's 1740? First floor of 1742?

1728-40-44 Larimer

Detail from a Sanborn map, graciously provided by a spy amongst the Smiths made it possible to put addresses to the photo. Here are floor plans for the block shown above.

1744 Larimer

1894: Club rooms at 1723 Larimer, maybe indicated by the arrow.

1723 Larimer

1898-00: Walker & Blonger saloon, 1863 Larimer. Samuel Walker ran a big saloon out of a two-story brick building at 2054-60 Larimer during the 1880s. In the 1889 city directory, with a business there, living at 1863 Larimer. Taking him back a bit further, he was in Denver at least by 1880. Born in Pennsylvania in 1843, making him six years older than Lou, he ran the Walker Hotel at 907 Halladay for many years before going into the saloon business.

Here's the building, on the right, that housed the Walker & Blonger saloon.

1863 Larimer (right)

This is the Equitable Building (built in 1892). It's still there — an historic landmark. 17th Street goes left, Stout Street heads to the right. Based on our evidence, in this picture the Elite Saloon is immediately to the right of the Equitable Building.

The Equitable Building, Denver

1922: Lou's office is upstairs at the American Bank Building.

American Bank Building

Here's a postcard (color-corrected):

American bank

In 1921, Col. Philip Van Cise put his experience in the Big War to use against Lou. A brick removed from the high wall of a warehouse provided an observation post from which the DA and his men could watch Lou's movements. Inside the warehouse, a high, shrouded platform was built for an observer with a telescope.

Observation Post

Speaking of Larimer Street — the buildings we've been talking about, the Blonger joints, are all gone now. Denver's Tenderloin district, Larimer Street and environs, is the very oldest part of town, and in the Sixties and Seventies the area was almost completely razed to make way for the modern downtown one finds there now. It's not hard to imagine that many Denverites were happy for the change.

Here's a Google-eye view of what the Tenderloin looks like today. the 1700 block of Larimer is center. 1728, 40 and 44 were on the right side of the street.

Downtown Denver



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