The Margery Building was constructed in 1906 by Verner Z. Reed, a millionaire who made his fortune in mining. It is named for his daughter, Margery.
Downtown Grand Junction has a lot of interesting historic buildings that have retained their spirit of the past. These buildings can give us clues about the city and the people who lived here.One such place is the Margery Building, on the corner of 5th and Main in downtown Grand Junction.
For the third installment of Threshold to History, the historic series exclusively on 11 News Live Today, we you into this building and its past, to learn more about the history of the city and the people who lived here.
In 1906, a two-story, brick building on Main Street was built for $30,000. It was developed by Verner Z Reed, a Colorado millionaire who made his fortune in mining. Reed owned several properties around Grand Junction, including the Margery Building, named for his daughter who was 13 at the time the building was constructed.
Throughout the past 100 years, the Margery Building has consistently been a prime location for businesses that take up the five storefronts on the bottom floor. These spaces have been home to everything from barbershops and hardware stores to yarn stores and salons.
The second floor was built with a large ballroom and several smaller spaces, which have had many different uses over the past century. One of which remains a mystery even today.
During the mid-1900s, the ballroom was often used for community events and gatherings. With its hardwood floors and large windows, it was an ideal place for school dances and even competitions. In the 1930s, it was used to host dance marathons, where couples competed to win a pot of money.
“Some of these couples would go for, say, up to 36 hours of nonstop dancing,” said Zebulon Miracle, a curator at the Museum of the West.
But while the dance marathons and community events that took place in the Margery Building are well documented, there have long been suspicions that the second floor ballroom was also used as a meeting place for the Klu Klux Klan, which was a prominent organization in Colorado and the American West during the 1920s.
“Now if the Klan actually met up in the Margery Building is hard to say,” said Miracle. “We haven’t been able to find any documentation to prove that definitively, but that is a rumor. That is a very good possibility that we’re looking into right now.”
Eventually, the ballroom and upstairs offices stopped being used for community gatherings, and have become popular rentals for sculptors, painters and photographers. The ballroom was a ballet studio at one point, and is now a work space for several local artists.
Paul Gray is an artist and photographer who paints in the spacious, well-lit room, and he likes working in the historic setting.
“I was attracted to the front of the building. It has that nice brick,” said Gray. “And coming up off the street from the Margery Building, you get the sense that you could be anywhere in the world.”
In the 1960s the façade of the building was updated to make it look more modern, but the building’s owners restored the original brick and detail in 1982, using a low-interest loan from the Downtown Development Authority. Since that time it has remained a well-downtown location.
Today, the building’s owner says artists hear about studios for rent before she does, and the first-floor storefronts have a low turnover. In fact, one of the only problems with the place is the maintenance on a building that’s so old.
For more details about this building, and to leave your thoughts and ideas about this series, visit Lisa McDivitt’s blog by clicking here.