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Michael Thornton is a Baker neighborhood icon: Kenny Be's Hip Tip

Neighborhood Icon #5 of 76: Baker.
Neighborhood Icon #5 of 76: Baker.

Wedged between commercial and industrial development south of West Sixth Avenue, the Baker neighborhood contains the city's largest assortment of middle-class Queen Anne houses and the widest variety of eclectic oddballs...

Originally called the "South Side," the Baker neighborhood was annexed to the city of Denver in 1883. Home building followed the commercial development of Broadway to the east and the industrial development of Santa Fe Drive to the west. The statelier homes along the Bannock Street district line progressively give way to more modest cottages on each block due west.

The western edge of Baker is a curious checkerboard of light industry and vernacular housing that hums with the sound of business by weekday but is as tranquil as the countryside on evenings and weekends. It's the kind of environment that is attractive to urban wildlife and other, more exotic creatures. Meet Baker resident Michael Thornton...  

Baker neighborhood icon Michael Thornton (right), with Donna Rae Altieri (left).
Baker neighborhood icon Michael Thornton (right), with Donna Rae Altieri (left).

Michael Thornton was born on Denver's north side and eventually gravitated to the south side by way of a youth spent on downtown's edges. Michael has always been at the center of everything that is great and good about Denver, so it is only fair that he gets to live among Baker's warehouses, in the most amazing home in the city. Built entirely of recycled construction materials and rocks hauled up from the South Platte River, Michael's house is protected by a collection of international guard dogs.

Married to Donna Altieri, the world-famous musical bag lady, and father to Dexter Thornton, celebrated doublebutter design star, everything Michael touches turns to artistic gold. A teacher by day, Michael gets to impart his wisdom and message of hope to each new generation of Denver artists. And, like the neighborhood in which he lives, Michael Thornton teaches us all that artistic success thrives somewhere between the industrious and the commercial.

More from our Kenny Be/Comics archive: "John Hickenlooper's homeless-program plan for expansion: Kenny Be's Worst-Case Scenario."


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