By Kathryn White
Lake Steam is here to stay,” said manager Sky Brown. Business was brisk at the 95-year-old bathhouse when The Denver North Star stopped by recently to clear up confusion about its recent sale.
Public records show the 3540 W. Colfax Ave. property was sold to Boom Car Wash LLC for $2 million. BusinessDen first reported the transaction on Oct. 18 but had few details about its future until Tyler Weston and Scott Kilkenny, members in the entity listed as Boom Car Wash LLC, came forward for a follow-up story on Oct. 26.
“It’s not going to be a car wash,” Weston told BusinessDen, adding Weston and Kilkenny intend to “build apartments on the 0.38-acre site, zoned for up to five stories. The bathhouse will be situated on the ground floor.” “It’s going to be a really cool long-term situation,” Weston told the publication.
According to BusinessDen, Weston and Kilkenny have yet to submit development plans to the city.
“We’re leaving the bathhouse as is for the next couple of years,” Weston said. “It’s probably going to take a couple of years to get permits.” Customers walk into the business to pick up a folded white sheet, small hand towel, and locker key affixed to a circle of brass with a number punched on it. “People can continue to book massages and come by for a soak,” said Brown from the desk behind the counter.
Longtime patrons will recognize the brass locker numbers and remember when, decades ago, a woman named Gertie Hyman held court at the counter, distributing the same stacks of amenities while she welcomed nearly every customer by name.
Ethyl and Harry Hyman founded the business in 1927. Their youngest child, Joe Hyman, eventually took over, with his wife Gertie handling most day-to-day operations. Joe and Gertie’s son Hannon Hyman took his own turn running Lake Steam, together with wife Amy.
When Hannon died in 2015, Amy Hyman was left to carry on the business. She was at the helm in 2019 when Lake Steam was awarded Westword’s “Best of Denver” honor for Best Service on Colfax. And she carried the storied iconic business through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, its last years in the Hyman family.
Lake Steam Baths makes an appearance in local historian Phil Goodstein’s “North Side Story: Denver’s Most Intriguing Neighborhood” for its significance in the bath house scene of early 20th century Denver.
Intermountain Jewish News profiled Lake Steam on Oct. 20 in its “From the Archives” blog, reminding readers that “the baths brought the traditions of Mother Russia to Denver’s West Side Jews, many of whom were Russian Jews. The ‘shvitz’ was a legendary local hangout, where men would gather to unwind and shmoos.”
Decades later, neighbors can still gather and unwind, in the nude (bathing suits rarely seen), at Lake Steam Baths. For $27 you receive access to the steam baths, sauna and hot tub. Additional fees apply for reflexology sessions and exfoliating scrubs.
Book a massage in advance or stop by the desk to inquire about availability. Men’s days are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Women’s days are Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
“With any change comes trepidation,” Brown said, referring to the beginning of the months-long sale process. “But things have settled down now. It’s a new day, a new dawn.”