George Schleier Mansion, Denver Colorado
The George Schleier Mansion, currently being restored, is significant in three areas. First the mansion is architecturally significant. The house, built in the 1880's by a prominent Denver architect, E. F. Edbrooke, is constructed of Colorado sandstone and was the most impressive of the homes designed by Edbrooke. The mansion, built on a prominent location for the 1880's, overlooks downtown Denver. In adding the onion tower to the Queen Anne design of the house, Edbrooke achieved a feeling of gravity. The house reflects no readily identifiable architectural theme, which is common among Denver homes of the 1880's. Structures constructed during the Colorado mining years have taken on the term eclectic architecture, meaning of no specific design.
Nonetheless, the house is unique in several respects. The Schleier Mansion offers numerous examples of elaborate plaster composition ornaments and Lincrusta-Walton, fashionable for that period. And, possibly the most outstanding feature of the house, is its German styling. Little is known of Schleier's childhood, but at age six, his family emigrated from his birthplace in Baden, Germany, to the United States. Schleier's heritage remained an integral part of his life, and the massive Germanic styles of the house reflect this. The closed string staircase with paneled base reflects Schleier's heritage. The stairway has carvings of gargoyles and Bavarian swans, which symbolized good luck to the Germans. The baluster has extremely detailed hand carvings. The plynth block on the woodwork, half-way up from the baseboards, is also common to German styling. Possibly more than any other building in Denver, the Schleier Mansion can be said to be truly of German design.
Secondly, the Schleier Mansion is significant in the area of industry, exemplified by the endeavors of George Schleier. In 1843, Schleier went to Cincinnati where he enrolled in a business course at Baron's Community College. He was employed by a "hat house" and also became acquainted with the processes for the manufacture of hats.
In 1350, George Schleier left Cincinnati and traveled to New York City, where he was again employed in the manufacture of silk hats. From 1851 until 1857, Schleier lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and had his own hat business. It was this early, experience in the manufacture of hats that earned him the nickname of the "Glad Hatter",
The Schleier Mansion is also significant in the area of commerce, again through the endeavors of its owner. Sometime around 1860, Schleier returned to Denver and invested in freighting and, until the flood of 1864, farmed on Cherry Creek area. He then moved to Denver and began what was his longest and most successful endeavor, a career in real estate. In 1886, Schleier was elected to the City Council and in 1867 and 1863 served as the City Tax Collector, both positions acquired because of his prominence in the development of commerce in Denver.
During- the economic panic of 1893, Schleier took out a homestead at Sixteenth and Lawrence Streets. This property was leased to People's National Bank Company, who erected a building and paid a rental to Schleier. This was one of Schleier's most successful real estate deals.
Above all else, Schleier is noted for his role in the settlement and early development of Denver, When Schleier was thirty-one years of age he left Milwaukee and traveled to Leavenworth, Kansas, and in 1858 joined a group headed far "Pikers Peak Country". Among others were several Denver pioneers. Schleier and the others lived for several months on the west side of the Continental Divide among about seven hundred Mexicans and Indians (and lived there peaceably according to Schleier). The party then traveled over the Divide to what later became Denver, Schleier first built a log cabin in what was then the only residential district in west Denver.
During the winter of 1858, Schleier acquired enough lumber to build a house and shortly thereafter, he erected the first two-story house in Denver.
In June, 1859, Schleier and a group of six others started back to the Rocky Mountains. When they came to the foothills (where Golden, Colorado was established) the waters of Clear Creek were too high to cross. The group decided to erect a bridge, which was believed to be the first erected in Colorado, Only one man, Fox Diefendorf, possessed any money and so he furnished the $600.00 while the others in the party provided the necessary labor. The bridge was completed in one week and the party charged a toll for those who crossed it. By the end of the first day $600.00 was collected.
Schleier did not make friends easily, and the family was not active in Denver social circles. Bur through his adventuresome spirit and foresight, be helped promote the development of Denver, its industry, and its commerce.