Let’s be honest, everyone is guilty of wondering what the interiors of other people’s homes are like. Fortunately for the curious among us, the Historic Baker District once again will be opening its doors to the public this fall during its annual Baker Home Tour on Sat, Sept 16 (11am-4pm; tickets $20/$25 (pre-order/day of) at bakerhometour.com). This year’s tour features six homes of various architectural styles, a midcentury modern library, a neighborhood church, and a Neo-Gothic school (now the Denver Center for International Studies (DCIS) at Fairmont). The Tour’s proceeds fund the Baker Historic Neighborhood Association with a portion donated to DCIS at Fairmont. Baker witnessed its beginnings in 1872 when Denver expanded residential development southwards to accommodate its swelling population. Originally known as South Side or South Broadway, the name was changed in the 1970s to honor James Hutchins Baker, a former University of Colorado President (who never actually lived in the neighborhood). Several renowned Denverites have resided in Baker, including two city mayors (Marion D. Van Horn and Thomas S. McMurray) and many prominent women (Sadie Likens, first Police Matron of Denver; Alice Polk Hill, Colorado’s first Poet Laureate; and Mary Coyle Chase, writer of Pulitzer-winning play Harvey). Baker was designated a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and became a historic district in Denver in 2000. The neighborhood has since experienced a dramatic revitalization, particularly along the Broadway corridor, which is now home to some of the city’s finest restaurants, lounges, and entertainment venues.
Baker is unique among Denver’s neighborhoods, boasting the largest concentration of Queen Anne Victorian homes in the city’s historic center. Any passerby can quickly recognize this style by its ornate exteriors, fairytale turrets, and decorative balconies. Several homes on the Tour showcase these characteristic details, though examples of other architectural periods are also represented. Henry Roth, a coppersmith, built one such featured property in 1928 for $100 in a style called Hobo Craftsman. A creative recycler, he incorporated barrel lids from railroad spikes as roofs and Platte River boulders into the façade. Another home was completely remodeled and added a small apartment over the garage. Also known as Accessory Dwelling Units or mother-in-law suites, these structures are common in Baker and have seen a reemergence since new zoning laws passed in 2012. With such a wide range of beautiful homes and the fascinating stories underlying them, the Tour is sure to satisfy architectural aficionados and local history buffs alike. For more information about the homes on the Tour and to purchase tickets, visit bakerhometour.com.