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Gustav Stickley
Gustav Stickley

House Beautiful

Although these days the most impressive aspect of the modest bungalows that line the streets of Washington Park and Highland would seem to be their high price tags, they also boast sterling design pedigrees. Originally built to house the working class, these buildings are classic examples of the Arts and Crafts movement's contribution to architecture. "The Arts and Crafts movement in Colorado is a very underappreciated, unknown quantity," says Pam McClary, a member of the nonprofit Colorado Arts & Crafts Society, which has dedicated itself to making sure the movement is appreciated properly. "It has been bypassed because people notice Victorian homes. But in this day and age, simplicity and happiness are what people are looking for."

And they'll get plenty of guidance at the Colorado Arts & Crafts Society's winter symposium, set for January 20 at the Boettcher Mansion -- itself a prime example of Arts and Crafts architecture, although on a much grander scale. The symposium ends with a talk by Bruce Smith, author of The Beautiful Necessity: Decorating With Arts and Crafts, former editor of the American Bungalow News and now associate editor of American Bungalow Magazine. At workshops earlier in the day, Glen Aaron and his design students from Metro State College will show off their "Neo-Arts & Crafts" furniture, and Fiona McBride of New World Craftsman will demonstrate how to use current fabric and wallpaper design to create screens in the style of Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Workshops.

A century after the heyday of the Arts and Crafts movement, Stickley and other founders are still revered for their streamlined, elemental designs, a direct response to the overblown Victorian era. Buildings in the area that resonate with this influence range from the Boathouse in Washington Park to the Grandview Terrace area in Boulder (recently threatened by the University of Colorado's expansion plans) to all the bungalows that abound in the city. No matter how modest the Craftsman structure, though, the Society deems it worthy of preservation -- and celebration.


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