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DENVER: HISTORIC WALKING TOUR TAKES IN ALL THE SIGHTS

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With a history as colorful as a cowboy's bandanna, Denver offers the weekend tourist plenty to see and do - all within walking distance of the State Capitol.

There are 54 stops listed on the newest walking tour map, "Denver Historic! A Self-Guided Walking Tour."The tour map was compiled by Charles Hillestad, owner of a romantic little bed and breakfast called the Queen Anne's Inn.

The Queen Anne's Inn is just north of the Capitol - in the once-fashionable and then, for many years, very-unfashionable Clements Historic District.

Hillestad is an admitted booster of the Clements District; it is stop #1 and #2 on the map. However, he'll be the first to tell you there are at least 10 historic districts of equal significance close to downtown.

If you love architecture, art or history, you could spend a week wandering around Denver.

If you have only a day (and can walk quickly) you can visit 10 or 11 of the most interesting sites:

1. Clements Historic District at 21st and Tremont is Denver's oldest residential neighborhood, says Hillestad. There are 22 100-year-old buildings, representing eight distinctive styles of Victorian architecture. Twenty of the buildings, including St. Andrew's Church (2), have been restored.

A grassy town square in the center of the neighborhood has also been renovated. Its crumbling terra-cotta fountain was replaced with an Italian marble in the same style.

3. Museum of Western Art, 1727 Tremont Place. (Closed on Sundays and Mondays.) The 109-year-old Navarre building began as a school for young ladies of "Christian virtue," became a gambling casino and brothel (complete with an underground tunnel connecting it to the Brown Palace Hotel across the street), and then, for decades, was an elegant restaurant.

Art collector William Foxley bought the building in 1983. With its classic architecture and wild past, it seemed the perfect site for a western museum.

Inside, the museum is modern, spacious and light. On its walls hang the works of Charles M. Russell, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Albert Bierstadt, Georgia O'Keefe, Thomas Moran, Jackson Pollock and Frederic Remington.

In the basement, you can still see the tunnel. It's closed, though, and you'll have to walk across the street to the . . .

4. Brown Palace Hotel. Tremont and 17th. The stately, beautiful Brown Palace was built in 1892.

Some Denverites make a Christmas Eve ritual of dinner at the Ship's Tavern in the Brown. They say their children love the Dickens-like atmosphere _ the dark beams on the ceilings, maps and model sailing ships along the walls. Stop there for lunch or just take a peek at the tavern and head for the. . .

5. Capitol, on Broadway and Colfax. From its steps you have a beautiful view of the city, you are exactly one mile above sea level, and you are in the presence of the entire world's supply of rose onyx. The unusual stone was used in the interior of the building for wainscoting. There are free tours of the Capitol on weekdays. At this point in the tour the logical person would proceed directly to Molly Brown's house, then down the hill to the museums. If you are more hungry than logical go directly to . . .

6. The Firefighter's Museum and Restaurant, 1326 Tremont Place, is a charming place, open only from 11 to 2 on weekdays.

Children will love the Old Number One Firehouse. The main floor houses colorful antique equipment. Upstairs are the beds and more firefighter memorabilia, and a restaurant that serves soup, salad and sandwiches.

The Denver Mint is across the street on West Colfax, as is the Denver Visitors Center, where copies of "Denver Historic!" walking tour are free.

7. The Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy (closed Mondays and holidays), is a gem. You can spend several hours in the American Indian Hall, listening to tapes of chants and song, lost in the beauty of the displays. Don't miss the modern art or Asian collection, currently showing "Pathways To the After Life."

Beginning Nov. 11 the museum's Stanton Gallery will house a traveling display, "Summons from the Soul: Treasures from China's Tomb."

At the gift shop you can get detective kits that give children clues and spark their desire to seek treasures throughout the museum.

8. The Colorado History Museum, open daily at 13th and Broadway, is a must if you have children in tow _ or if you still enjoy the kind of museums you loved as a child. Its $22 million collection is loaded with dioramas and big machines. It has a Native American display, too, but it's less engrossing than the one at the Denver Art Museum. If you are pressed for time, head straight downstairs to the 16-ton coal loader and the covered wagon.

9. Molly Brown's House, 1340 Pennsylvania (closed Mondays). A fabulous mining fortune. A triumph on the Titanic. Molly Brown is Denver's best known heroine.

She was something of a difficult woman, however. When you visit her Victorian home, you can gossip with the tour guide about her personal life. You also get a real sense of what mining meant to Colorado.

10. 16th Street and, at the north end of the street, the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall. With brain enriched and feet sore, you may now want to head for 16th Street. There, free buses will carry you up and down the tree-lined walking mall. There, you can refresh yourself with food and shopping.

This is the New West part of Denver. The skyscrapers sparkle. At the north end of the mall lies the Tabor Center (more shopping) and Writer's Square (more shopping). From Writer's Square you can reach Larimer Square (ll), a restored section of Denver's oldest street. It is a quaint place, lit by gas lamps, filled with restaurants, galleries and shops.

For more information contact the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, 225 West Colfax Ave., Denver, Colo. 80202. (303) 892-1505.