Jetsons in Jeffco

A dream of the future from the past still looks great right now.

To add insult to injury, in 1990, Deaton's Central Bank and Trust in downtown Denver was demolished along with an adjacent Beaux Arts-style turn-of-the-century building, also called Central Bank, by Denver architect Jacques Benedict, one of the most important figures in the city's architectural history. In the failed preservation struggle that ensued, the loss of Deaton's Central Bank was overshadowed by the loss of the Benedict, though the tragedies were comparable. Considering how few projects Deaton actually got built, the demolition represents a major loss to his relatively small portfolio of completed structures.

Though he had achieved great fame, Deaton's faltering architectural practice brought him to the brink of financial ruin, and in 1988 he decided to sell the Sculptured House, which he and his family had never occupied because the interior was never fully finished.

It sat on the market until 1991, when Larry Polhill, the president of American Pacific Financial Corporation, purchased it. Polhill started the Deaton-planned addition but never completed it or finished the interior, and by the mid-1990s, the Sculptured House was essentially abandoned, left in a vandalized state with plywood sheets covering its many broken windows. By the late 1990s, the Sculptured House was one of the most endangered historic buildings in Colorado.

Exterior view of Charles Deaton's Sculptured House.
Exterior view of Charles Deaton's Sculptured House.
Front door of the Sculptured House.
Front door of the Sculptured House.

It was at the same time that the Sculptured House was falling into ruin that, after years of declining health, Deaton died in a nursing home in Morrison on December 18, 1996. Unfortunately, in one of those truth-is-more-tragic-than-fiction episodes, the model of the Sculptured House was accidentally knocked over and destroyed at Deaton's memorial service.

In 1999, a savior for the house appeared in the person of dot-com millionaire and Colorado native John Huggins, who made an unsolicited call to Polhill to inquire about the Sculptured House. Huggins purchased it for $1.3 million and invested another $2 million to complete the interior, which was created by Deaton's daughter, Charlee Deaton. He also finished the addition, which was carried out by Nicholas Antonopoulos, a former protegé of the old master's -- and Charlee's husband.

I'm confident that Huggins's efforts saved the house for another generation, and whoever buys it from him will most likely do so to enjoy its world-class design. That's what I would do if I could afford it. Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets?

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help

What a well written and thorough story. We just drove by thus house and, for two architects, it was a thrill to see it and them read in depth about it.