Lighthouse Writers will move into the historic Milheim House -- which has its own tale to tell

Lighthouse Writers Workshop, the fourteen-year-old creative writing school that has helped some of Denver's best authors, is moving and consolidating its classrooms and office space into the historic Milheim House at 1515 Race Street.

The house, built in 1893 for John and Mary Milheim, was originally located at 1355 Pennsylvania Street, across from the Molly Brown House. John Milheim was a Swiss immigrant who opened Denver's first bakery and other businesses.

But in 1989, the house, a Denver Square, was set to be demolished by the Colorado State Employees Credit Union, which planned to build a parking lot. Historic preservationists raised a stink, however, so the credit union offered to give the building to anyone who would move it, along with the $40,000 it was planning to pay for the demo, according to a 1996 story in the Denver Post. James Alleman and Ralph Heronema II stepped up.

The two men still own the house, and Lighthouse Writers has signed a five-year lease on the property, which resembles their current facility, the Thomas Hornsby Ferril House, a two-story Victorian at 2123 Downing Street that was once home to the Colorado poet laureate who died in 1988. Built in 1890, the Ferril house is now a state-protected landmark building owned by the nonprofit Colorado Humanities.

"It's been great, but for the past two years, we've had to supplement our space with other venues," says Andrea Dupree, who founded Lighthouse with her husband, Mike Henry, in 1997. But when Colorado Humanities announced that it was selling the house, Lighthouse began looking for larger space. The Milheim House "is gorgeous," Dupree says. "And it is three times the size. It also has a writerly feel to it that people just love."

Although the Milheim house is understated on the outside, it is gorgeous on the inside, retaining much of the original detail, Dupree says.

Moving it was a massive challenge, however. It took three semi trucks to carry it -- very slowly -- through Capitol Hill. Numerous power and other utility lines had to moved, but no trees were allowed to be cut down in the process, the Denver Post wrote. The 5,000-square-foot house weighed 583 tons.

Lighthouse will take over on July 1 and plans to hold an Open House Celebration and Tour on Tuesday, July 19, from 4 to 7 p.m.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes