In the Beginning…
At the turn of the last century, this historic building was built and owned by E.J. Defrancia who was Louisville’s agent for Tivoli Beer (largest brewer in the state, headquartered in Denver). It is one of Colorado’s two oldest bars, the oldest ongoing tavern license in the state and, to the community, a priceless treasure steeped in memory and local lore. 740 Front is the last remaining saloon of the original thirteen that lined the 3-block strip of Front Street.
The awesome, room dominating, back bar was built in the 1880’s by the Brunswick Company, in Dubuque, Iowa.
Cherry, birch, and mahogany make up this “Del Monte” model which was cut-to-fit constructed, without nails.
Before finding its home in Louisville, the bar spent the best part of ten years in Leadville, Colorado. Tivoli worked with Defrancia to bring the bar to Louisville from Leadville, by wagon, not an easy feat in the Rocky Mountains.
The Early Days
During its early days, the saloon had an icehouse operating and connected to the building. Rumor is that most of Louisville’s saloons, relegated to Front St to keep “the sinners” off Main Street, were connected by tunnels to facilitate clandestine imbibing, gambling and womanizing. In the event of an unscheduled visit from the revenuers, state police or an errant wife, a handy exit was available.
Miners assisted digging the tunnels only during the summer months. Due to the grade of coal mined in Louisville being weak and brittle, mining for profit only took place in the winter months. The bricked up tunnel entrances in the basement attest to the credibility of this rumor.
Due to dangerous gases in the coal mines, the miners could not smoke so most chewed tobacco. The copper spit trough, once equipped with running water, still exists along the floor of the front bar and functioned as a stable, easy to hit, spittoon.
During prohibition in the 1920’s, windows were covered up to hide illicit activity, two skylights were installed to bring in light. The chandelier that currently hangs in the main bar skylight well was installed during 740’s recent renovations.
Additionally, legend has it that 740 Front was the heart of the “red light district”, a brothel operating in the rear of the building. Railway hands were accommodated by the “full service” saloon, by repute, drawing business from the neighboring train stations. Rumor is that the basement and its environs are still the home to a mischievous ghost named Samantha, a harlot who was stabbed to death by one of her less than satisfied customers.
The 740 Front building was designated a Historical Landmark by the City of Louisville in 2015. The exterior has been renovated to restore it back to its original 1904 design and look to the finest detail.
In the interior of the building, original material and artifacts have been repurposed and incorporated into the tabletops, upper dining room ceiling, hostess stand and wherever else deemed practical. The partition walls, ceilings, floors and fixtures all have a story.
740 Front offers food continuously throughout the day in the dining saloon and on the outdoor patios. Traditional comfort foods, small plates, burgers, sandwiches and salads are on the menu along with both oysters on the half shell and baked oysters.
The dinner menu features something for everyone! Signature steaks, “steaks not well done, but done well,” chops, fresh seafood, pasta, oysters accompanied by a choice selection of craft beers, wines and handcrafted period cocktails.
“There is something for everyone”
The abiding philosophy of the owners and operators is a commitment to the enduring and timeless standards that are of a time bygone, but faithfully reflected in the renovation as well as the operating standards of the business.