Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Daniels, Fisher, and Company - The Growth of Department Stores in the West

While I was researching Denver for my latest release, The Bitter and the Sweet, I happened upon a fun historical tidbit I thought I'd share with you today. It never ceases to amaze me - I'll have a question, I'll hit the Internet for the answer, and the next thing I know, I'm reading article after article surrounding that topic - history is so fascinating.

My original intent was for my character to visit a store before returning to her home in Topeka. I didn't realize at the time that Denver is home to a store with a great deal of history.

In 1872, two gentlemen - William Daniels and William Garrett Fisher - went into business together and started Daniels, Fisher, and Company. It was a full-fledged department store, a definite step up from the general store that was so common at the time. It had three stories and was really quite elegant in design.

Almost forty years later, Daniels' son constructed an addition that was five stories tall and had a corner tower. It's that tower that actually holds the most historical interest - it was the highest structure west of the Mississippi at the time, at 393 feet, and it's still standing today, over a hundred years after it was built. You could see two hundred miles in any direction from the top.

Over time, things changed, and the business merged with another company. They moved into a different location, leaving this one vacant. It changed hands and the store was eventually torn down, but the people of Denver rallied, and the tower was left intact. Here's a modern picture of this not-so-modern structure.

The bell in the tower weighs two and a half ton, and the clock faces on all four sides are sixteen feet in diameter. Of course, the tower isn't the tallest structure in Denver anymore, but it's certainly still important to Denver history. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and currently houses office buildings.

Architecture is something I love about history. It's so cool to see how the builders of the time managed to create things that would stand up to the rigors of the years with the limited tools they had. And now I think I need to take a road trip out to Denver so I can see this tower for myself!

For more pictures of the original store, visit this website.
Amelia C. Adams is the author of the Kansas Crossroads series and also the Nurses of New York series. You can get the first volume of Kansas Crossroads free by clicking here, and please be sure to visit Amelia at her website, where you can sign up for her newsletter and stay on top of her new releases.


  1. Amelia,

    Denver, and all of Colorado, has so much wonderful history. You should see Will Roger Shrine to the Sun in Colorado Springs. It also is pretty amazing. Here's a link: Loved the post, and if you get to Colorado, give a shout. Doris

  2. Hi Amelia!
    I love your cover for The Bitter and the Sweet! (Not to mention the title :-) I love old architecture too. A few summers ago my DH and I took an architectural boat tour through the Chicago canals. Just loved hearing about the oldest buildings in the city. It still gets me how the men building some of the tall ones would vie for who could build the tallest.