The fourth annual Victorian Holiday Home Tour kicks off tomorrow, November 30, inviting visitors to get an intimate look at some of central Denver's oldest and grandest homes. A tradition that has fast become a local favorite, last year's event featuring local mansions saw more than 800 people through the doors of the hundred-plus year old homes-turned-businesses.
Put on by the Colfax Business Improvement District, tours run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow, starting with a ticket and map pick-up at the Castle Marne Bed and Breakfast. The walking tour of five Upper Colfax homes will take visitors inside the estates and current owners and operators will share the rich history of each space.
The tour definitely exhibits how meticulously these homes have been preserved, but this year, the spotlight is on some modern and often unseen renovations.
"There is a focus this year on energy efficiency," says Stephanie Salazar, Business Development Director for the Colfax Business Improvement District. "Denver's Department of Environmental Health is a major sponsor for the event and they have assisted the Castle Marne with implementing measures to save energy and help reduce the carbon footprint. We're focusing on what can be done for a home if it is a historic home and how it can become sustainable and energy-efficient. Also, we're highlighting adaptive reuse - and the fact that many of these homes have been adapted for a different use than they were originally used for."
Those multiple uses include homes converted into office space and bed and breakfast locations -- which three of the five homes on the tour have become. Along with the Castle Marne, the Adagio Bed and Breakfast and Holiday Chalet Bed and Breakfast are part of the walking tour, as well as the Lighthouse Writer's Workshop housed in the Millheim House and a home the Unity Temple occupies.
The walking history tour also includes entertainment from strolling carolers and horse-drawn carriage rides. In 2011, a handful of visitors showed up unprompted in period costumes, inspiring a Victorian-era costume contest which will also be a part of the day's festivities.
Whether you are new to Denver or a lifetime resident, the Victorian Holiday Home Tour is a chance to get to know a part of the city unseen during the rest of the year.
"We hear every year that visitors are thankful and appreciative to be able to walk through the homes and actually see what they look like inside," says Salazar. "These homes are really a rich heritage for the city of Denver -- homeowners who are owning or leasing the homes really enjoy sharing the space with visitors and enjoy talking about the history."
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The Fourth Annual Victorian Holiday Home Tour runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow; tickets can be purchased in advance through today via the Colfax Business Improvement District's website for $12, or in-person on Saturday at the Castle Marne for $15 (children under ten are free.) A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Denver Children's Home. For more information, visit the Colfax Business Improvement District's website.