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  • Our Ode to an Original Bench returned to Denver Union Station 2

    Our Ode to an Original Bench returned to Denver Union Station

Our Ode to an Original Bench returned to Denver Union Station

By Union Station

Welcome Home, Birge & Shoemaker Family Bench! 

When you walk inside the Great Hall of Union Station, what do you see? What do you notice? Perhaps you are enveloped in the bustle of travelers scurrying to catch a train. It may be the timeless beauty of the 1,200 pound chandeliers from the 1900’s that catches your eye. A moment longer and your eyes may wander to notice 2,300 Columbine flowers etched into the molding throughout the Great Hall. 

As you continue to take in the scenery, you may or may not recognize a strikingly beautiful curved bench off to the side, with a rich and stunning grain. This rare work of craftsmanship, much like many other items within Union Station, has a story. 

Our Ode to an Original Bench returned to Denver Union Station 1
The lobby of Denver Union Station
Great Hall

The Journey

As you sit on the Birge & Shoemaker Family Bench you may sense familiarity and a memory may find its way back to you. An original fixture to the Denver Station Depot in 1960, the Bench once lived in the West corridor of the building where it was a seat to tens of thousands of patrons, serving as a place for visitors to read the daily newspaper or to bid farewell to loved ones departing on the Union Pacific Railway.

In 1974, as the natural decline of railroad transportation ensued, the bench was relocated to what became a downtown Denver staple, The Wazee Supper Club, where it remained for several decades. 

After the family owners of The Wazee Supper Club sold the restaurant, it underwent a complete renovation and the Bench was sold to a local Denver family who were longtime patrons of the Club and also longtime friends of the previous owners.  Years later, through a common friend of the then owners, the Bench was sold to Nancy Birge and Jeff Shoemaker.   Jeff was also a longtime patron of the original Club.  Nancy oversaw the complete renovation of the Bench including personally removing the original cushioning.   She also engaged with a local Denver area family to have the wood of the Bench completely restored to its original condition, possibly even better.

The Bench is made of rare Tiger Oak. Once completely stripped and sanded, a Golden Harvest stain was applied to the wood of the Bench and then five coats of polyurethane was applied to protect the finish and give the Bench its shine.

The Bench then became their entryway showpiece, allowing family and friends the pleasure of viewing and enjoying the  Bench’s curved lines and the inviting upholstery. Nancy and Jeff  cherished the Bench as a significant and storied part of their home in Southeast Denver.

Recently, Nancy and Jeff sold their home and with great sadness are no longer able to keep the Bench. After much thought as to what to do with this historic piece of furniture, they realized it should be returned to its original dwellings within the Great Hall of Denver Union Station.

Reunited

On January 23, 2023, the bench returned home, 60 years after her departure. When you look at this piece of furniture, recognize she is a symbolic fixture of nostalgia, grandeur, and is engrained in the very origins of Union Station. We cordially invite you to have a seat with history

Our Ode to an Original Bench returned to Denver Union Station 4

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