Backstory and Context
This building is one of many historic buildings in the Five Points area of Denver. Built-in 1895, this building was originally home to the Smith Louis Billiards club in the 1920s. In 1951 Otha P. Rice Sr. bought the building and established the Rice’s Tap Room and Oven and the Simmons Hotel.
These businesses served as one of many key cultural centers of the African American Community for Denver. The Tap Room included a jazz and blues club, bar, and restaurant. As a jazz and blues club, the Tap Room was one of many musical hubs along the Welton Strip. The Simmons Hotel, located above the Tap Room, was also run by Rice. It was intended to serve as a first-class hotel for the African American community in Denver thanks to Rice recognizing that the community needed high-quality and safe lodgings. The original building was sold in the 1960s by Rice and the restaurant was renamed the KC Lounge. The restaurant and hotel remained relevant to the African American community in the area until the 1970s.
Otha P. Rice Sr. was born in Texas in 1916 and moved with his family to Chicago while he was still young. As a young man, he moved to Denver where he met and married his wife Irene Hazel Johnson and had four children. Rice graduated from Manual High School in Denver in 1934 and would return to Chicago for his college education, eventually returning back to Denver. Rice was very active in civic organizations and neighborhood issues in his community and was well known for bringing and hosting the Juneteeth celebration for Denver until 1966.
Today the building is a restaurant and bar and has been restored and renovated, with a stucco exterior from the 1940s stripped away to reveal a classic Coca-Cola mural upon the south side of the building. In 2015 the stucco was removed to reveal the mural and the painting was dated to the 1930s. The restaurant Goed Zuur now occupies the building.
Chapter 2: Out of Rubble a Palace Appears, Goed Zuur. September 9th 2017. Accessed June 30th 2020. https://goedzuur.com/blogs/news/chapter-2-out-of-rubble-a-palace-appears.
Five Points - Whittier Neighborhood, The Denver Library. Accessed June 26th 2020. https://history.denverlibrary.org/five-points-whittier-neighborhood-history.
Landmark Preservation Commission. Microsoft Word - Five Points Designation Amendment, Welton Corridor. September 1st 2015. Accessed November 18th 2020. http://weltoncorridor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Five_Points_Designation_Amendment.pdf.
Rolett, Burl. Developer reviving Welton St. building, Business Den. July 9th 2015. Accessed June 30th 2020. https://businessden.com/2015/07/09/developer-reviving-welton-st-building/.
Five Points-Whittier Neighborhood History, Denver Public Library. Accessed November 18th 2020. https://history.denverlibrary.org/five-points-whittier-neighborhood-history.
The Denver Library