Leander Smith and Dr. Isaac Davis both came to Manitou for their health, set up successful businesses, and built their neighboring buildings within a year of each other in 1886 and 1887.
SMITH BLOCK (left) – Leander Smith built the brick and Manitou White sandstone building on the northeast comer of Lafayette Road and Canon Avenue in 1886. He wished to relocate his grocery business from the south side of Manitou Avenue. Smith came to the region in the late 1870s for his health and stayed. Allegedly, Smith’s wealthy father was unhappy about the building’s location in the floodplain and threatened to disinherit his son for poor judgment. The Smith Block was electrified and wired for telephone in 1887.
In the late 1880’s, Anna Chamberlain, one of the first female dentists in the area, leased an office in the building. Watermarks from Manitou’s 1927 flood are still visible inside the original butcher shop, which was accessed from the back of the building by way of a bridge across Fountain Creek. The butcher shop is now an artist studio. The Smith Block remained a grocery store for years and was operated by A.M. Wilson, Raymond Hiligoss, and Guy S. Boyd, among others. The Commonwheel Artists Co-op has been in this location since it’s founding in 1978.
DAVIS BLOCK (right) – Dr. Isaac Davis built this three-story building on the southeast corner of Lafayette Road and Canon Avenue in 1887 to house his pharmacy. He was born in Somersetshire, England and fought in the Crimean War before coming to America. After being wounded in the Civil War fighting for the Union, Davis went to medical school in Pennsylvania. He practiced in Brooklyn, New York, before homesteading a 160 acre tract south of Manitou Springs.
Inside his building, Davis installed an impressive soda fountain by John Matthews of New York. The building was wired for electricity aid telephone in 1887, and in April 1889, a Western Union Telegraph Office was added. Davis was one of Manitou’s first physicians and County Coroner for many years before his death in 1891. The Davis Block continued to house drug stores under several successive owners.
A Note from a visitor,
Robert A. Davis – Great Grandson of Isaac Davis
Isaac Davis was first mayor of Manitou Springs. He was also a mortician, a dentist and a pharmacist and he was on the School Board of Directors. He had a corpse that he kept upstairs embalmed and he kept it salted in a special way and eventually he propped it up out in front where he passed it off as a petrified Indian. After he died, the corpse was stolen and it kept turning up in county fairs around the state. Isaack’s sons, Robert and William Davis built the Red Stone Castle, however my grandfather William Davis could not get his wife to move into it because they couldn’t get water up to the house. My grandfather William Davis was a colonel in the US Calvary in and around 1907. My father’s name was also William Davis Jr and he told me these stories when I was young.
My name is Robert a Davis and it is my pleasure to know that such a fine man at Mr. Rockey now lives and works in my great grandfather’s home and business.
Early Photos with 10 Canon Ave Included