Hunter's Colorado Building Receives Landmark Status

Colorado Building.JPG

The City Council voted unanimously to designate the Colorado Building as a local historic landmark.

In 1971, Boulder citizens placed a 55-foot height limit on city buildings. With this new rule, structures like the 100-foot Colorado Building in downtown became markers of a by-gone era.

Built in 1955, it was the first major building built downtown since the 1930s and the first million-dollar building in Boulder.

Not only being Boulder's only skyscraper, the James Hunter design is a nicely executed example of the International style. Hunter, who also designed the Boulder Municipal Building, the Masonic Lodge and many residential homes of the era, modeled this design loosely on the recently completed United Nations building.

Additionally, the real life story of the building's financier reads like a Hollywood. script..

Original owner Lefferdink had moved to Boulder from Nebraska in the late 1940s. The press referred to him as a "youthful financial wizard" at the time. He formed the Allen Investment Co., then quickly expanded his control to at least 40 corporations.

Although Lefferdink spread his concept of post-war consumer credit throughout the country, Boulder remained the corporate headquarters.

Because his businesses needed a central location, Lefferdink purchased several city lots and razed the existing buildings. Then he hired local architect John Hunter to design the nine-story office building. The modern high-rise's two principle components are the tower that faces 14th Street and a low-rise pavilion facing Walnut Street.

Colorado Building Helipad

Colorado Building Helipad

The Colorado Insurance Group (Lefferdink's integrated companies) moved into the building's upper floors. Lefferdink's office was in the penthouse, directly below the rooftop helipad. The building's major tenant, in the basement and first three floors, was Joslin's Department Store. 

In 1959, only two years after the building's completion, Lefferdink's financial empire crumbled into bankruptcy. The U.S. District Court barred the super-salesman from entering the building after he was charged with fraud.

Lefferdink literally sailed off into the sunset, with his female assistant, on his yacht "Sea Wolf." But the law caught up with him, again, for additional fraud and conspiracy charges. He served time in prison, then died in Carson City, Nev., in 2003, at age 85.


Sources: Erica Meltzer and Silvia Pettem of the Daily Camera