Gates Rubber Company - Demolition Diary part 2

If you haven’t read Part One of the Demolition Diary, you should. It gives the background to what this whole project is about. That being said, here is Part Two, my first look at the start of Gates end.


November 20, 2013

The day before these pictures were taken, I drove by Gates on my way up to Colfax Avenue. Because I needed to hit up Twist & Shout before work that afternoon. As I passed by the red brick offices that butted up against Broadway, I saw the Gates event that I’d been anxiously waiting for. Shovels were ripping at the walls and tearing them down. I didn’t have my camera with at the time, so I didn’t stop. Actually I had my work IPhone on me, from that few years stretch where I was pretending to be a supervisor, but I never used it for anything besides work related stuff. Wish I would have snapped a few pictures on it that day anyways...


I really miss Twist & Shout. Such a great place to wander around and look for cool stuff that you don’t necessarily need, but seems so cool at the time. My mission on November 19, 2013, was to pick up the new Secret Chiefs 3 album, Book of Souls: Folio A. Which quickly shot into the ranks of one of the top 5 albums I’ve ever listened to. A great deal of that praise can be credited to track 3.


Secret Chiefs 3 - Potestas Clavium

A five and a half minute instrumental that tells a complete story, despite having no lyrics at all. This is easily my favorite piece of music from the last decade. Before reading any further, turn this on, close your eyes, sit back and watch the movie this puts in your mind.

A copy of this CD was kept in my car and became almost a personal soundtrack to Gates destruction.

Starting the next morning...


As per usual, I drove north on Broadway, crossing Evans, on my way to Gates. 

In part one of the Demolition Diary, I mistakenly identified Broadway as Broadway Ave. Which I thought it was. Come to think of it, I’d never seen an official designation on any signs for Broadway that stated its title. A few people pointed out my error, so for the sake of mentioning Broadway in the future, I’m calling it Broadway Avestreetboulevardnue Road. That should about cover it.

Or maybe not...


Continuing up Broadway, you’ll see Herman’s Hideaway, and that sweet Red Pine Motel sign. I saw a friend of a friend of mine’s band play Herman’s a few times in the late 1990’s. Got pretty drunk here once too. But most people in Denver could probably say that...


Winchell’s Donuts

I’ve never been inside here. And I like donuts.

But there’s no time for donuts right now, because we’ve got a big buncha Gates to look at!


Combination of two pictures, taken from the corner of Broadway and Mississippi. The perspective is off between the two pictures, but this was the best I felt like doing in under five minutes. Soon, there would be some construction offices parked on top of the empty flat area in the front of the picture. Which would block a lot of this view. Enjoy it while you can. Just like everything else here, it would all be disappearing soon.


The Gates parking lot once again has cars (or trucks) in it! Unfortunately, they are here to tear the buildings down, instead of making some rubber belts and hoses.


What you would see when you zoom out of the sign picture that lead off this story.

Sorry if I spoiled the illusion.


Close up of where the newer officey part of Gates meets the older factory parts. The boards have been removed from these windows, some of which are intact! That “SIN” painting on the fourth floor had been there as long as I remember.


Better shot of the south facing wall of the office building and the broken out windows adorning it. 


I love the jagged breaks in the five consecutive windows on the top floor. I was probably one of the few admirers of abandoned Gates that never dared to go inside to explore it in person. And I'm a huge fan of the pictures posted in various places online by those who did. But I really wanted to see what was behind those walls!


Misers Abatement combined with the Colorado Cleanup Corporation (whose banner was seen several pictures ago) to demolish and clean up the highly polluted former Gates property.


Looking north on the sidewalk in front of the Gates offices.


Uncovered and broken windows, to the left of the front entrance.


Boarded up entrance doors, with the crumbling and decaying remains of landscaping.

In the distance, the first shovel can be seen, perched upon a small pile of former wall.


Unbroken windows, to the right of the front entrance. 

This section of red brick is even redder due to graffiti coverups. A distorted reflection of new construction across Broadway can be seen through surprisingly intact windows. Those would become the cleverly named -and extremely overpriced- 1000 Broadway South Apartments.

We'll talk about those in a second. But first I want to take a second look at the marquee above the front doors of Gates. 


Moving to Denver in 1996, I never saw Gates Rubber Company open. To me, those panels look like translucent covers for lights behind. I'm sure some one can tell me what the entrance used to look like. It was always something that stood out to me over the years.

But I'm going to turn around now and take a picture of this...


Heavily tagged three panel advertising kiosk!

I love this picture!


Better look at the evolution of the 1000 Broadway South Apartments. The structure started at Broadway and Tennessee, and was almost Move-Inable at that point. As you went south down the block, the structures were in earlier stages of construction.

I still can see the Gates Medical Center here in my mind. Really wish I would have taken pictures of it then...


Marrying old and new, from the US Bank sidewalk, in front of where I parked. The 1000 Broadway South Apartments are framed and getting the outer wood panels attached. While the last of the massive Gates campus sits nervously behind.


Oh... I forgot to mention, they're CONTEMPORARY!

In addition to being BRAND NEW!

Damn gentrification...

Let's get back to much happier images of destruction!


Back across to where the tagged up awesome advertising kiosk sits (for now, until it slowly gets destroyed over the next year) we'll start looking inside Gates. As three shovels slowly peel away its covering.


Through the steel beam skeletal remains, you can see through this part of the building, to the older factory behind. But my eyes always go right to that fan dangling off the collapsed roof.


I could have tried to make the rare vertical multi-photo cheap panorama here, but I got lazy. So here's the bottom part of my view from where I stood for the previous picture. With part of a hungry shovel, devouring an obsolete building.


Chewing through the place where rubber was born, took three shovels, working as a team.


The one in back had what appeared to be a giant scissor, which was cutting the steel beams with ease. Dropping them to the ground. Or the pile of bricks they landed on.


Kept hoping that shovel would cut off the collapsed roof, so I could see inside the top floor. There was probably some cool stuff in there that I missed out on seeing.

But I still really like that fan clinging to life at a 90 degree angle!


A better view of the three shovels, each doing their own thing. One ripping the walls down, one snipping steel beams in half, and the other handling the sorting duties. Piling recyclable metals into the center, between the two piles of bricks.


Let’s not forget the crewman cutting the giant whiz on the building to contain the dust, as it crumbles under the destructive forces of three shovels. The once nice landscaping of Gates is looking rather ragged with all the new activity on the site.


More demolition equipment sits parked in front of the original factory building. The doors on the left side of the photo used to have a clock above them. Where the white and off-white boards are now. I don’t have a picture of that clock.


The north end of the Gates factory, which includes the original power plant. Ample parking is available for demolition crews. But I’m going to walk back the way I came now, and take photos of what we just saw, only from a slightly different perspective!


Like this better shot of the former Gates yard and current demolition staging area.


And all the way past the offices, back towards the south end of the factory. 


With a look over my shoulder at the offices again.


The first floor windows had been covered by sheets of metal for years, while the windows above on the second floor were mostly broken out. Though, fairly intact on the third and fourth floors.


Southeast corner of the Gates factory. Someone should close that window on the third floor, so moisture doesn’t get in and cause problems with the equipment. That would cost the company a lot of money to clean up!

Since I hadn’t done it before today, I’m going to walk along the southern wall of the Gates factory, to see what that looked like, up close, before all of it is gone forever.


I can’t read the sign about not trespassing because it’s covered by tagging. Which means I can’t be prosecuted because the message is obscured! Of course I wasn’t trespassing during any of my Gates photo missions, because I stayed on the streets or sidewalks. Because I’m too old to deal with the hassles involved with a petty trespassing charge.

But I do like how the sign looks!


Driveway behind that sign. With that red brick landscaping barrier leading workers to the employee parking area.


Zooming in down to see how the newer offices were connected to the older factory building. 


Fire hydrant growing naturally out of some lettuce, in its own caged up cyclone fence cell. I wondered if there would have been a fire on site, how the fire department would have accessed the front nozzle. They’d definitely have to trespass in order to do it...


Looking west down Mississippi Avenue from a few paces south of the fire hydrant. I’m standing in front of the sidewalk that goes under the bridges. To my right is a one lane road that takes you to the alley behind Gates, and the bridge across Mississippi to access those crappy new apartments that were built where the south plant of Gates used to be.

And the Rocky Mountains...

Sigh...


Straight above my head is an open window on the fourth floor. I bet it was a jumper that left it open...


Directly in front of where I was standing was a green painted exit. The door had been removed years ago (halves of hinges can be seen, still on the wall), so this was just a covering. Albeit one that warranted barbed wire on top of the security fence.

Next to the door was an exhaust vent large enough to park my car inside. If there wasn’t a fence in the way to allow it...


That’s where Gates made bad employees “walk the plank”.


Which would be a pretty nasty drop to the pavement below.


The closed doors for the missing second and third floor skyway, that had been removed about ten years prior.

I liked how only this section of security fence had dead vines lacing through it.


Those doors... Again...


Southwest corner of the Gates factory, looking up at the pipes and ducts and platforms sticking out of it. I’m sure these served a very practical purpose during rubber making days of old, but nearly 25 years after rubber making stopped, they simply add a great deal of accent to the decay unfolding around me.


Same spot, but looking straight forward at some plywood covered windows.

But I’d like to direct your attention to the lower right corner of the photograph...


(And how long had that 2 liter bottle been wedged under that pipe?)

This uncovered window behind the fence would provide my very first look inside Gates!

Zooming the camera lens through the fence I can look all the way inside Gates darkness, to see...


Another pipe!

Being supported by a large bolt and bar attached to the basement ceiling! 

This may seem like nothing to you, but back in the day, getting this picture made me so very happy!


I won’t tell if you don’t...


The west facing walls of Gates are much dirtier than the east facing walls. Wonder why they felt the need to cover up the Gates logo on that Unit 10 Gate sign?

I really like this picture too...


Looking down the alley, past the garbage and broken out windows.

The RTD Light Rail tracks sit on the left side of the fence. 


I’d be willing to bet that the base of what appears to be a loading dock, once had walls around it. But I could be wrong. Further behind that appears to be another loading dock. With a damn tree blocking what would probably have been some cool art painted on the side of the wall. Along with a a pair of 29’s and a Rece. But you'd probably have to zoom in even closer to see that...


Art Shot!!


Standing on the bridge across Mississippi Avenue, looking west over 4 sets of railroad tracks. 


They really should have left all those first floor windows uncovered, just for me...


The telephone was missing as well. 


Stanley left their box behind, and it’s not holding up as well as you’d expect a Stanley product to last, while exposed to decades of the harsh Colorado weather.


I normally don’t like taking pictures on bright sunny days, as it interferes with shadows and glare. However, today it worked out well. I do like the contrasting blue sky with the gritty grayish yellow of the Gates factory facade.


The way the building was put together, with all of the pipes and stuff hanging off of it, gave the Gates factory even more character than just a normal factory, consisting of tens of thousands of square feet of emptiness.


Dead vine through a fence, in front of a protective grate, covering a ventilation shaft. Nice incidental composition. Just something else you’d see walking along the base of the factory.


I’d be interested to know why this set of pipes wasn’t deemed worthy of protection via cyclone fence. And wouldn’t you know it, they’ve been tagged! Gates should have sprung for 12 more feet of fencing!


This week’s walk around complete, it’s time to get back into my car and off to my next destination (I’m pretty sure it was work). Safely parked at the US Bank, which was still open at the time this picture was taken. And if you look very close on the right side of this photo, you can see US Bank’s doomed neighbor, Gutterpup!


Gutterpup was a vintage clothes reseller that was long closed by the time this photo was taken (June 8, 2014). It would be demolished a little over a year later. For whatever reason, I neglected to cover the Gutterpup building’s demise in my US Bank or East Asia Garden stories. I’ll probably go back to it at some point in the Gates Demolition Diary series.

As far as this entry goes, I’m only going to cover one day of the demolition for now. I’ll do another one of these to round out November, 2013, in a few weeks/months, depending on what else I feel like covering. Be it baseball cards or abandoned buildings or lunar landings...

Well, it probably won’t be lunar landings...

******

On Tuesday May 5, 2020, I got a call at work just before 6pm, from my mother: “The house is on fire, get over here now!” I told a co-worker the strangely urgent message and left for my parent’s house, stunned by what I heard and unsure what I was about to see. Which was indeed smoke from several blocks away as I drove up. Police and fire had blocked off the street, so I parked and ran up the block to their house.

This is what I saw:


My parents made it out of the house safely, and are doing well. 

But the house... Not so much...

I’m not going to get into this story now. Insurance will take over. The house will be rebuilt.

My family will recover just fine as time goes on, and that’s all that matters. 

The weeks since have been about digging through the ashes, trying to salvage decades of mementos and important documents, which is difficult to do. Moving sucks hard enough, imagine doing it from a house with no electricity or running water, and you have no idea what to move. Oh, and everything is coated in thick, dense, black soot.


This used to be their kitchen.

After we were allowed to enter the structures, we got to see just how bad the damage was. As a person that loves photographs of abandoned and fire damaged properties, I never thought that I’d be taking pictures of the house I grew up in, under those circumstances. This was far more personal than simply stopping the car to get a closer look at something cool that you drove by.

That being said, as my family and I searched the rubble for articles of significance, I took hundreds of photos of what was my parents house for the last 50 years. Many of these pictures are strikingly beautiful in the sheer destruction shown. Unbelievable, knowing things I’d seen for my entire life were reduced to nothing more than burned up charcoal.

At some point, I will write that story and show many of those pictures, but that time is a long way off… 

We’re still picking up the pieces.

But there’s one thing I pulled from the ashes of the house fire, that I do need to show here:


A pocket calculator from Gates Credit Union!

What was once something my sister had gotten when she worked for the Gates Credit Union, in the late 1990’s, it made its way to Minnesota, and survived the fire relatively unscathed.

Now it has a permanent home in the Archives.

Part 3 of the Gates Rubber Company Demolition Diary will arrive in a little while.

Got some other things on tap first.


Comments

  1. Sorry about the fire....best of luck with everything...your blog rules.....

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