"How Can That Be Historic?" lecture highlights Aurora's mid-century modern architecture

Though Aurora is a relatively new city in the West, it still has a rich history to share. This Thursday, February 6, at the Aurora Fox Arts Center, architectural historian Adam Thomas will take a look at the city's story through a mid-century modern lens. The lecture is part of Aurora's Historic Sites & Preservation Office's effort to educate the public on current and future preservation projects around the city.

See also: New owner of Mayfair Center to renovate the mid-century modern shopping area

"We work directly with landmark owners all the time; it is kind of a daily thing," says the office's historic preservation specialist, Jim Bertolini. "I can't speak to any buildings that are what we call 'threatened' right now, but as far as a mid-century modern example that is attempting to be landmarked, there's the Victory Grange Hall on North Tower Road. It was built in 1951 and they are currently seeking landmark status."

Thomas was invited to speak because of a piece the historian wrote recently in appreciation of mid-century modern works -- an era not always embraced by communities. Thomas currently works in the field of preservation at Historitecture, a Denver-based research and survey firm. "He's really driving the lecture and has done similar lectures before for communities that want to learn more about what the significance of modern architecture is," says Bertolini of Thomas's engagement. "It worked out well that the Colfax exhibit -- Golden Highways: Views of Colfax Avenue at the Aurora History Museum -- is up, and it is part of an attempt to beef up historic-preservation outreach and education programs this year. We're trying to really ramp up what we do as far as talking to people about their historic resources, about Aurora's architecture and built history."

Thomas will discuss both residential and commercial structures in Aurora, including the KOA Building finished in 1934, the Hoffman Heights neighborhood developed in the 1950s, and the Aurora Fox Arts Center built in 1946.

"Because a lot of Aurora's development is very new and post-World War II, we have a lot of potentially historic resources, but sometimes it is a little difficult to get people to appreciate them because they aren't used to thinking of the '50s as historic, necessarily," says Bertolini. "We thought we would try to do some kind of program that at least built up some appreciation for mid-century modern architecture.

"Aurora definitely struggles because a lot of the history is definitely a bit newer. But again, that is part of the reason we're bringing Adam Thomas in -- to build appreciation for that newer history and show that it is actually historic."

Thomas's lecture, "How Can That Be Historic?" starts at 6:30 p.m. this Thursday, February 6, at the Aurora Fox Arts Center; the talk is free. For more information, call the Historic Sites & Preservation Office at 303-739-666, or go to the Aurora History Museum website.

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