As a Colorado native there is no way to consider the Livestock Exchange Building without automatically thinking of the National Western Stock Show, the annual show held in Denver in early January. But the decaying Livestock Exchange Building and limited area for the show prompted a “reimagining” of the area. As the $8.5 million sale of the historic building has been finalized the exchange building and what will be a 250-acre complex will become a center for agricultural research and education for more than just the 2-week National Western Stock Show.
The EXDO Development, Elevation Development Group, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, and the nonprofit National Western Center Authority (DBA National Western Center) joined together to purchase the historic building and the sale was finalized on November 30, 2020. From here they will be revamping the entire area with a $1 billion expansion project to add new buildings in partnership with Colorado State University, History Colorado, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, National Western Stock Show, and the city and county of Denver.
to Denver Landmark regulations) and requiring any exterior changes to be approved through a city review process. The pandemic highlighted some of the disappointment that lingers in the city’s surrounding areas as the National Western Stock Show cancelled for 2021. Although the work towards selling, restoring, and re-vamping the area began back in 2011 as the National Western Stock Show considered new locations due to poor building conditions, the major changes have been spurred to a new fervor with the pandemic cancelling an economic benefit centered directly in Colorado’s history as a “cowtown.”
This entire ambitious project is an incredible consideration to have developed over the past few years in Denver. The consideration of both the local citizens and supporters of the National Western Stock Show was taken into account throughout the redesign of the area. The Beaux Arts-style architecture and exterior of the building remains largely intact (excluding the middle section of the building that was decimated in fire several years ago), and it ties back to a foundational identity of Denver based off of livestock and agriculture in the “Great Plains.” The articles on the sale of the Livestock Exchange Building provide only an introduction to what will happen in the area over the next few years with its transformation to the National Western Center. But as progress continues with the building and the new construction, the connection to history and potential for future opportunities will likely become clearer than their current plan.
provides a different and hopeful thought for historic preservation. Although it is only saving a few buildings from this area of Denver, the preservation and restoration of the building feel like a hopeful message in securing the historic preservation of important buildings throughout the Denver metro area.
I think this proposed project of both preservation and new construction is incredibly important in maintaining the legacy of agriculture within Colorado. The inclusivity of education, the National Western Stock Show, History Colorado, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and local neighborhoods provided one of the most substantial efforts within the Denver metro area of inclusivity of both the public and interested parties. The potential for future preservation and consideration of Colorado’s agricultural history seems to have a new emphasis and impact on Colorado’s legacy and maintenance.
Alex Warren is a public historian who recently completed her master's in public history at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is passionate about digital opportunities to engage public audiences.