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HomeNeighborhoodsThe Slate Denver Keeps Emily Griffith’s Legacy Alive

The Slate Denver Keeps Emily Griffith’s Legacy Alive

When the bell rang at The Slate Denver’s grand opening in May 2022, the hotel became the new occupant of what was formerly the Emily Griffith Opportunity School. The historical landmark in downtown Denver now boasts 251 rooms across its four stories.

“When we opened the doors, we rang the first bell. We invited all of Emily Griffith teachers, which we have a great partnership with,” said Von Fabella, director of sales and marketing for Slate Denver. “Current teachers, past teachers, alumni and retirees have come here and we want them to have ownership of this hotel. We’re just tenants, so to speak of their history.”

The school opened in September 1916 to fulfill Emily Griffith’s mission of granting every citizen in Denver a chance at success. Now it’s a savvy Hiton-owned hotel where that opportunity continues. The Slate continues to honor the history of the building by incorporating Griffith’s mission and work. Whether it’s the interior design and its cozy school-esque feel, or the history lessons about Griffith’s impact on the city, the hotel worked along with Stonebridge Companies to keep the spirit of the school alive in the corridors of the hotel. 

“I think we’ll always have the spirit of Emily and her students and what they left behind, not necessarily as a supernatural meaning,” Fabella said. “As you walk down the corridors, you could envision and feel the sense of just how many people have walked through them before.”

As guests enter the hotel the first thing they’ll notice is a blackboard that was used to detail course information in 1923.

“You feel like you’re going to study hall when you enter the hotel, almost like the heart of every school where you see friends and feel like a kid or young adult again. We also used a design in the check-in desk that is made to look like library cards,” Fabella said.

However, there are parts of the hotel that just couldn’t be touched as the building is protected by the Historical Society, such as the exterior of the building, the stone, windows and alleyways. Most notable is the former main entrance of the school, where the stairwell and its intricate and vintage design have been retained over the last decade. 

One of the newer and most innovative spaces in the hotel is the Teachers Lounge, a restaurant and bar where the classroom ambience creates a memorable experience. The “Chalkboard Special” and curated menus—which are presented as a stack of composition notebooks—bring the education aspect of the building to the table. 

“Even at the bar there is a sense of learning so to speak as our bartenders teach people how they make the drinks because a lot of our cocktails here are curated,” Fabella said. “We have designed it to be that teaching experience that you would have as a student or as a teacher.”

The Slate is part of the Emily Griffith Foundation and contributes funds from books about Griffith sold at the hotel directly to students. The hotel still has teaching spaces in the kitchen for culinary students from Emily Griffith Technical College who help create the dishes sold in the Teacher’s Lounge.   

“I think we owe this, and all of what makes this hotel to Emily Griffith and it’s necessary for us to discuss and share that with our clients,” Fabella said.

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  • Fond memories of classes there in the mid-sixties.

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