In 1983, Brother’s manager Dave Le Compte was downstairs counting the previous days receipts. It was early in the morning and he was alone in the building. He startled to a loud booming noise followed by the building shaking and then settling. He ran upstairs; the bar area was dark, except for the light coming in around the enormous grill of the car that had just been propelled through the front door.
The sole occupant of the car, a woman, was trapped inside, wedged between the door jam and the post. The intersection at that time did not have a light; she had been traveling down 15th and had been hit from the side by a car heading south, sending her into Brother’s. The fire department was called and used the Jaws of Life to get her out. Conscious but badly bruised she was taken to the hospital and the car was removed and towed away.
That morning Brother’s opened on time, with a makeshift door put in place and stories to tell. Word eventually came that the woman in the car was going to be okay; she had been treated and released. Owner Jim Karagas sent her a gift card so that she and her husband could return another time.
Weeks before the accident a new front door had been installed. Long-time regular and woodworker Bob Clesen had been commissioned to create a solid mahogany door and entrance. Only days old, in seconds the whole thing had been turned into splinters.
The 15th street façade of the 1983 Brother’s was brick with narrow high windows on the north. This is the template that many a dark bar has used over the years, allowing a little light in and still offering privacy for those inside. After the accident they took the opportunity to remodel the front by installing large windows that help define the bar as it is today.
My Brother’s Bar, located at 2376 15th Street in Denver, celebrates its 39th birthday in January of 2009.
– Story by Dave Le Compte, reported by buckfifty
More about Brother’s from Westword
The viaducts were designed to carry automobile traffic over the railroads, Platte River and flood plain. Ten viaducts spanned the Platte Valley from 6th Avenue to the Brighton Street Viaduct.. Eventually the viaducts deteriorated and were replaced with ground level roadways that created access to the development we see today. I see the future potential of Denver with my mind, but the wonderful memories of the old viaducts stay in my heart.
Let’s go back to the viaducts from 1983-1993. The viaducts were beautiful, full of magnificent curves and straight lines of strength! The viaducts’ roadways offered expansive views of the city or the mountains. A closer view gazed down the Platte Valley or at a nearby historic structure.
For me, however, my favorite place was on the ground, sharing time with the steel and concrete viaducts. Only the 15th Street Viaduct had road travel directly beneath it at ground level. This road serviced the huge Post Office Terminal, Wazee Supper Club and My Brothers Bar. The old Monarch Mills building at Delgany Street was demolished and replaced with the superb new MCA building and the old Moffatt Train Station, which still stands a couple of blocks to the west.
Walking under the viaducts was generally quiet; some of my neighbors were rabbits and birds. The sight and sound of trains sometimes interrupted my peaceful wandering to remind me of the railroads’ heritage in the valley. The viaducts themselves arose from the dirt with powerful, unswerving lines and beautiful curves and arches. They were surrounded at each end by buildings and asphalt that replaced the dirt. The supporting beams or columns of the viaducts provided natural frames for structures or scenes near them.
From the top of the viaduct, strong shadows cast down to the surface, suggesting a place where grand mysteries lived. I will miss some of those meditative journeys; most people were not able to experience the viaduct world. If in this text and photos you get a small look and a little sense of the past, then I have done my job.
— Kim Allen
Images ©1986-1991, denverphotoarchive.com
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