The Motel de Ville – An Obituary

The Motel de Ville was located at 650 W. Colfax Avenue on the southeast corner of W. Colfax and Galapago Street. The motel was built in 1959 and designed by the Colbert & Lowrey architectural firm of New Orleans. Partners in the motel’s ownership and management were Lewis Reis, Samuel Fortner, and Seymour Fortner (Fortner Bros. Midwest Corp).

An artist’s conception of the new De Ville motor hotel. Rocky Mountain News, 1959.
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Warren St Thomas: The Night Club King of Denver

Warren St Thomas’ Tropics (Photo courtesy of Denver Public Library)

“Warren is not a saloonkeeper or a strip joint owner. He is a creative artist who might have been an outstanding designer, painter, or architect, but who happens to run the world’s most exciting night club. He’s the exotic dancer’s dream. He’s a master showman.” – Evelyn West (1956)

“With the almost overnight success of his Tropics, St Thomas became night club king of Denver.” -Cabaret Magazine (1956)

In 1937, Rocky Mountain News columnist Lee Casey wrote, “What Denver chiefly needs is a burlesque house and some strip-tease acts.” In 1948, Warren St Thomas inadvertently answered Casey’s call when he opened Warren St. Thomas’ Tropics on Morrison Road in Westwood, a neighborhood southwest of Denver. “Denver was ready for a top-quality club when I came on the scene,” Warren said in 1956. Of course, the Tropics was much more than just a burlesque house with striptease acts, or just any other club. It was a unique experience. One that had never existed in Denver before the Tropics, or after it. And it made Warren St Thomas the “night club king of Denver.” This is his story.

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Walt Conley: The Founding Father of the Denver Folk Scene.

Walt Conley (Photo courtesy of History Colorado)

“I’ve been a folk singer, or should I say, a singer of folk songs, for most of my adult life. My idea of folk singers is men like Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Merle Travis and dozens more who worked and traveled through the hardships and joys of the folks they wrote about. The music I choose to interpret is really a vicarious expression of my life, because for every song I sing I have a memory from my own travels. That’s what keeps this music alive-the shared association we all have with these songs.”

-Walt Conley, from liner notes, After All These Years

Before November 9, 2019 a stroll through the mighty gallery of pictures of those inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame made one long to see all of these artists gathered on stage for just one night, perhaps at the inducted Red Rocks Amphitheatre. What a sight to see. What sounds to hear. And maybe that evening would close with all those famous faces gathered on stage for one last number. Perhaps an ode to Colorado. Perhaps Colorado Queen of the West. But something wasn’t right. Something was missing from that chorus of voices, and from that gallery of pictures. Like a skipped over section of road on a map or a forgotten puzzle piece. What that song needed was some rich baritone and the strum that can only come from a 9 string Ovation guitar, or perhaps a 12 string Guild. And what that gallery needed was the picture of the man who provided those things, and provided them well. And that man is Walt Conley, the founding father of the Denver Folk scene. 

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Passin’ Through: Bob Dylan’s Denver

Hard to know which way the wind was blowing when Bob Dylan crossed the Colorado border on a summer day in 1960, heading west to Denver to stake his claim in the vibrant folk scene growing in the city. But like towns before and towns that followed, Denver turned out to be just another place Dylan was passin’ through.

Much has been written about Bob Dylan, perhaps a disproportionate amount for someone who refers to himself as “just a song and dance man.” Of course, that may just be the most convenient way to describe him. Venturing beyond the description finds one trying to tell the simple story of a man who chose a different path, and then struggling to explain the complexities of the life that followed. And although many have tried, few have elaborated on Dylan’s pre-New York adventure in Denver during the summer of 1960, an influential time spent honing his skill of watching, listening, learning, interpreting, reworking, and absorbing like a sponge. A skill Dylan developed back in Hibbing. Minnesota, his home town.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN and ELSTON GUNN

“I was never gonna be anything else, never. I was playing when I was twelve years old, and that’s all I wanted to do.”

The piano was the first instrument Robert Zimmerman “mastered.” He was less interested in formal training and more interested in learning just enough to emulate his favorite performers, particularly Wayne Penniman, better known as Little Richard.

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Diamonds and Rust

Diamonds and Rust is a Colorado based musical duo. Members are Melissa Getto (vocals, guitar) and Tim Fritz (vocals, guitar).

“Talk of Love” Performed by Melissa Getto. Written by Tim Fritz. Video by Tim Fritz. © 2005, 2021 Washington Street Media. All Rights Reserved.
“One Lone Whistle” Written and performed by Tim Fritz. Video by Tim Fritz. © 2003, 2013, 2021 Washington Street Media. All Rights Reserved.

The Family of Joy


“I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.”

A Brief Story of a Great Grandfather, Thomas Joy (1610-1678)

Thomas Joy is described as a “house carpenter.” He was a principal contractor, master builder, and architect in Boston. He first appears in Boston land records in 1636-37. After his political differences with Winthrop’s government (1646), he removed to Hingham, fifteen miles distant, and became identified with that village though still holding property in Boston, and for some years resided there. All his children excepting the youngest were brought to the First Church in Boston for baptism. In Hingham he bought a dwelling, farm, and mill privilege. He built or enlarged the grist mill at the town’s cove, and created a saw mill in the same locality. In 1658 he became a member of the Boston Artillery Company, now the famous “Ancient and Honorables,” and in 1657-8 he built the house in the market place of Boston, which was at once the armory, court house, and town hall of Boston, and first seat of government of Massachusetts. It burned down in 1711, and was replaced by what became known as “the Old State House,” later the site of the “Boston Massacre” which still stands to this day. In 1665 he was admitted “Freeman” of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. – excerpt from Thomas Joy and His Descendants

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Fritz/Fritts: Down Through the Roots

Horace Maynard Fritts (Great-grandfather)

Deine Vorfahren zu vergessen bedeutet, ein Fluss ohne Quelle zu sein, ein Baum ohne Wurzel.

(Forgetting your ancestors is to be a river without a source. A tree without a root.)

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