Story and illustration by Kristen Osborn Cart
Looking for the original offices my grandfather used while putting up elevators for a living, I checked maps for the buildings that stood at the old Mayer-Osborn Company addresses. Google gives a bird’s-eye view. The newer address at 5100 York, in Denver, has no building and seems to be a parking lot full of junker cars and abandoned trailers. There is a small white cinderblock-looking building next door that might be that old, but it is nothing to speak of. I am sure the old building where William Osborn and his partner Gene Mayer located their business is long gone.
The address at 1717 E. Colfax has a handsome, two-toned, tan-and-brown brick building, three stories high, with a glass-brick corner feature on each floor and a style very like some of the better buildings from the Forties and Fifties. It has white-framed windows. It looks like it could have been newly built, if it was their office back then. A mural painted on the side looks like old Nebraska historical scenes, and a canvas awning shades the entry.
If I were any good at all at remembering architectural terminology from my college art history class, you would have a pretty good idea what it looks like just from my description.
Alas, there’s no way of knowing from a photo exactly when it was built, and whether Mayer-Osborn set up there in the old office of Holmen and Mayer, but I suspect so. The building would have made a very presentable impression on clients who came in looking for a reputable, established elevator construction company.