Denver Gives Historic Designation to National Western Center Building

By Eric Heinz

Denver City Council recently voted to designate the National Western Center’s (NWC) 1916 Livestock Exchange building, located at 4701 Marion St., as a historic landmark.

“This building was where ag business happened in the region for most of the 20th century,” said Brad Buchanan, CEO of the National Western Center Authority. “It’s an icon of local agricultural heritage, and at the National Western Center, we want to ensure it will continue to play an important role in food and ag innovation for the next 100 years.”

The NWC stated in an email that it and the other owners, EXDO Development, Elevation Development Group, and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, plan to use the building for office and meeting spaces with a focus on food and agricultural organizations.

The building will also continue to house the Denver Stockyard Saloon, which was among restaurants, inns, and watering holes that first served stockmen in 1898. According to the NWC, three connected wings comprise the building that were built in 1898 (center), 1916 (east) and 1919 (west).

The 1916 structure is the most visible and recognizable and retains much of its original features. The Denver Livestock Exchange was a nonprofit that from this building oversaw livestock sales at the stockyards from 1906 to 1962. The Stock Yards National Bank safes can still be found on the first floor.

The property was built in response to centralization of the growing livestock and meatpacking industries in and around the Denver Union Stock Yards. The buildings served as the hub for the businessmen and ranchers who ran the livestock industry associated with the stockyards and the National Western Stock Show, according to the city.

Kara Hahn, a planner with the city assigned to the designation, said there will be a new road running to the northwest of the building. The longest tenant in the building was the Colorado Brand Inspection Board, from 1906 to 2015, according to the NWC.

Over time, ag-business uses and tenants left the building, and in recent years it has mainly been office space for a variety of private businesses. The other building on the NWC campus that has historic designation is the former Armour & Company Administration Building built in 1917 and located in the northern part of the campus, which received its status in 2019.

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