Sullivan Gateway

Year Listed: 2012
County: Denver County
Construction Date: 1917
Threat When Listed: Deterioration, Vandalism
Status: IN PROGRESS
 
 

Located on the north side of Colfax Avenue near East High School, the Sullivan Gateway is an impressive and grand entry to the City Park Esplanade. Built in 1917, Sullivan Gateway was originally conceived by George Kessler in his 1906 plan for Denver city Parks. Strongly influenced by the City Beautiful Movement, Kessler was one the leading national figures in City Beautiful park design. Edward Bennett, a protégé of Daniel Burnham was the architect for the City Park Esplanade structures and his design is true to the classical themes and elements of the era.  The Gateway includes two 300 sweeping terra cotta walls punctuated by two, 40 foot tall freestanding sculptures atop Doric columns that represent early Colorado agricultural and mining endeavors. The sculptures were completed by noted New York artist, Leo Lintelli. A large central fountain is located in a semi-circular plaza and is accompanied by two smaller lion head fountains that are installed into each curved wall of the gateway. Sullivan Gateway was erected with funds donated by John Clarke Mitchell in honor of his friend and colleague Dennis Sullivan.

While grand in style, Sullivan Gateway is in seriously deteriorated condition. The terra cotta walls are broken (including the top cap) in multiple locations and will continue to deteriorate at an increasing rate due to the freeze thaw cycle. Plants are growing out the walls and vandalism, including graffiti, is rampant. Advocates for the site are concerned that the holes in the wall are being used as hiding spaces for illicit drug activity. Denver Parks has begun to secure funding to phase the restoration of the site.  The first phase of work started in 2016 and focused on repairing the terra cotta walls of the outer gates and lion-head fountains, which will soon operate for the first time in over 50 years.

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