Former school, college now a Hilton hotel in downtown Denver

Where a Hilton hotel now sits on Welton Street in downtown Denver was once the site of former Colorado schools – and close to 150 years of history.

The Slate Hotel at 1250 Welton St. is the property’s latest iteration, with its past lives including the Emily Griffith Opportunity School and the Longfellow School. Part of Hilton’s Tapestry Collection, the four-star hotel nods at its legacy with features from its school days.

Guests are first welcomed at a front desk built like a card catalog, with slate chalkboards behind it. The school’s original glazed block and terracotta-tiled columns remain standing, and the hotel layout still follows the original school corridors.

Within its walls, the Teachers’ Lounge Food + Drink restaurant serves literary-inspired cocktails like “Monte Cristo,” “Paradise Lost” and “Atlas Shrugged.”

After the original Longfellow School was condemned, it eventually ended up in the hands of Emily Griffith, a Cincinnati native who moved to Denver with her family in 1895, according to the Emily Griffith Technical College.

Initially working for Denver Public Schools, her paths crossed with former Denver Post features writer Frances Wayne, who wrote about Griffith’s idea for a school for the masses. After the Denver Board of Education gave her the site of the Longfellow School, she opened the Opportunity School in September 1916, teaching English, typing and more to students for free.

The school’s curriculum changed with the times, offering training on ambulance driving and radio communications during World War I. Then, in World War II, it taught defense work to tens of thousands, according Emily Griffith Technical College.

Griffith retired in 1933. She and her epileptic sister met untimely deaths in 1947, with their murders in Pinecliffe still unsolved, according to the Denver Public Library.

The Emily Griffith Opportunity School was renamed the Emily Griffith Technical College, and, in 1991, began charging tuition to students.

The new hotel in its place, which was designed by hospitality design firm The Society, has almost reached its one-year anniversary since first opening its doors to guests.

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