Rumored for years to have originally housed a feed store, the building at 8001 E. Colfax Avenue was in fact built & opened by Howard Kurtz in 1926 as a small grocery & market. In 1934 it was converted into a tavern by an enterprising woman named Rose Baker. There is very little known about this mystery woman, or about the other owners who came & went over the next few years but according to old U.S. Telephone Directories and Denver City Directories, the bar was called Kolman's Tavern from '35 to '37 under the reins of Lou Kolman, then briefly Roy's Tavern from '37 to '38.
The real story begins when two women, Louella Kaiser & Eulalia Verdeckberg, purchased the bar in late '38... from an apparently rather skittish Roy Mayfield, who seems to have high-tailed it away from bar ownership after less than a year, though his actual story is lost to history, as is much of the Hangar's.
Enter Luella Kaiser, an operator at the Metropolitan Beauty Salon (2902 York Street) & wife of a local cop named Harry, and partner Eulalia Verdeckberg, a saleslady at Denver Dry Goods Company downtown (16th & California) & wife of a local Engine Company 7 fireman, uncannily also named Harry. These two early female entrepreneurs dubbed their new enterprise 'The Hangar' that year, the same year nearby Lowry Army Airforce Base opened (now decommissioned since 1994), and legend has it that a shuttle service for base employees, pilots & military personnel was initiated shortly thereafter. Luella & Eulalia ran the Hangar for several years & it subsequently changed hands at least half a dozen times during the decades that followed. Yet the name has stuck and for three quarters of a century the Hangar has been much loved as a friendly neighborhood watering hole by East Denver locals, a tradition that began with many of those courageous young men & women who fought & worked for victory during WWII.
In honor of those heroic founding patrons of the Hangar & their beer drinking revelry, I commisioned a light-hearted (but rather large scale!) tribute which now hangs over the bar of the Hangar. Affectionately known as 'The Beer Can Bomber,' this scale 'replica' of a B-17 Bomber was built by local Denver artist Chris Lewis out of vintage (& a few not so vintage) beer cans from his own collection which he started as a young boy.
I serendipitously met Chris in 2006, shortly after purchasing this amazing divey gem in much need of some major TLC, near my home in Park Hill. With a heavy heart Chris had put his beloved beer can collection out on the sidewalk in boxes in front of his house to give away, in order to clear out room in his garage-cum-artist studio. When Chris asked what I intended to do with the cans as I loaded them into my car, I told him of my recent purchase & that I was thinking to cover an entire wall of the Hangar with them, given how many there were (a LOT). After some ensuing conversation, Chris came up with an inspired proposal to build an airplane sculpture out of the cans... and I enthusiastically agreed on the spot to have him make the piece ! The Bomber's been a huge hit with patrons ever since Chris hung it over the bar a couple months later... especially with the many veterans who frequent the bar.
So if you're in the neighborhood, come throw a few back and get bombed at the Hangar !!
Thank you for your support & hope to see you soon--
Lorie Thomas, owner/manager
Copyright 2013 - The Hangar Bar Co., Inc.