our story

The History Behind the Name

Up until the mid-nineteenth century, the only houses of worship in Denver were saloons. That is until the arrival of Saint Mary’s Academy in 1864. Sisters Joanna, Ignatia and Beatriz, three Sisters of Loretto from Santa Fe, were recruited to establish a parochial presence and place of education in the Mile High City.

The church had purchased the largest dwelling in the territory at the time, the former home of George W. Clayton, for $4,000, and the nuns immediately began converting the residence into a nunnery and boarding school for young ladies. The landmark, long known as the “White House,” stood isolated on a full block lot between E and F Streets (today’s 14th and 15th Streets).

That summer, an advertisement in the local newspaper touted a comprehensive academic curriculum of piano or guitar, French or Spanish, drawing, painting, embroidery, and other “fancy work.”

Wrapped in a civilized white picket fence, the Sister’s St. Mary’s Academy opened its doors on August 1, with 20 boarders and a handful of day students of all faiths. Attendance at the school flourished over the next decade with records from the mid-1880s declaring enrollment of 100 boarders and 125 day students.

By 1891, St. Mary’s rapidly growing number of boarding students prompted the construction of Loretto Heights Academy on Denver’s west side. While the building has changed hands and served a variety of needs in the years since the Academy’s move to nearby Cherry Hills, Former Saint pays homage to the grit and determination of our Three Sisters and is dedicated to the pursuit of knowing and enjoying more in the Mile High City.

Photos courtesy of Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

Former Saint taps into the pulse of the Mile High City – From the hushed quake of a remote Aspen grove to the hustle and buzz of our downtown neighborhood, the colors and spirit of Denver come to light not only in our American fare and award-winning local beer, but in our space as well.

Inspired by the mixture of awe-inspiring nature and vibrant city life unique to Denver, Former Saint draws inspiration from the iconic yellow of Aspen leaves, shimmering metallics of the city’s storied brew-culture, and the playful dialogue of Denver’s pioneering and modern metropolitan aesthetics.

We invite you to join us and see for yourself the rich blend of colors, patterns, and textures that make the city and this culture so delightfully different.

At Former Saint, we draw our inspiration from all that Colorado has to offer. Like Colorado’s culture itself, our food is thoughtful, unpretentious and laid back while having a strong sense of adventure. Being located in the urban center, Former Saint’s menu is crafted to celebrate the bond between food and drink. We partner with a community of ranchers, farmers, brewers, distillers and vintners to supply us with hand-selected sustainable meats, produce, craft beer, spirits and wine. We use the best seasonal and local ingredients available and treat them with respect allowing their natural beauty and flavors to shine.

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