By Adam Cornett
Cibola Hall was one of the first entertainment venues in early Auraria. It was only the third combined drinking/gambling/theater establishment in the Denver area. The first entertainment venue was the Apollo Theater in Denver. To visit and attend, Auraria residents paid the toll for a ferry crossing. To remedy that, Cibola Hall, was built on modern day 11th Street between Wazee and Market Streets.
The front half of the building was a saloon where patrons could drink and gamble. The back half was taken over by the Cibola Minstrels, a group of performing women who converted it into Reed’s Theater and began putting on their shows. The theater had 240 seats and was very popular with Auraria residents.
In July of 1859, Cibola Hall was the site of a murder where a former slave and blacksmith, who had bought his freedom, was shot and killed over a dispute about whether he could play poker with a group of white men. Law enforcement never made any arrests. Cibola Hall had a reputation for being particularly shady in its practices. Many felt its primary business was to pull out-of-town miners in to gamble away their gold. It was exceedingly good at getting them to do so. The Cibola Hall location is now the Auraria athletic field, just to the west of the SpringHill Suites building on the Northeast corner of the modern campus.
The CU Denver 4244/5244 - History Museums, Exhibits and Education class took on the task of digitally telling Auraria's history. CU Denver Professor:
for the Museum Studies Class.