University Park Home Tour is an open house for a good cause

As a Denver neighborhood with a rich architectural history, University Park is home to houses of all shapes, sizes and legacies. This Sunday, May 4, five homes in the historic area will open their doors to the public for the University Park Home Tour, an afternoon event that benefits University Park Elementary. Though the neighborhood-organized tour began back in the '70s, 2014 will be the tenth year that parents from the elementary school have taken on the community-championing project.

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"What is great about our neighborhood is that we have a lot of different kinds of architecture -- we may have a brand-new, scraped modern home next to a house that's original from the early 1900s. That's what we think is so great about University Park -- we are one of the oldest neighborhoods in Denver, but we have all of these different architectural styles to show people," says Jennifer Frenkel, chair of this year's tour and a parent from University Park Elementary.

Much consideration goes into choosing homes for the tour each year. The parents on the committee look at both architectural style and construction of a structure, as well as the decorative aspects and personal touches put on the home by the owner. This year's tour will include five houses as well as the Chamberlin Observatory, built in 1890, which will be open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

"We start early on in the school year, familiarizing ourselves with homes in the neighborhood, and we approach homeowners to see if they are interested and might be a good fit," says Frenkel of the process. "Then our committee takes a tour of the home to see if it really would be something our attendees would like to see -- we make our decisions based on a lot of things, but most of all we want to make sure that there is a variety of architecture. We make sure we don't have five of the same style of house on the tour."

Along with the home tour, University Park Elementary will also be hosting a market during the day, with flowers, furniture and art for sale. Fourth-graders from the school will be selling lemonade as part of the fundraising project; there will also be a bake sale and student art auction. The money raised goes to the school directly, helping to fund the the PE teacher, librarian and technology teacher, as well as the cost of updating technology and facilities and helping with teacher supplies.

The University Park Home Tour runs this Sunday, May 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of (seniors and teachers are just $20 then). Maps for the tour will be given out with tickets at University Park Elementary, 2300 South St. Paul Street during the open-house hours. The self-guided tour stretches throughout the neighborhood, so if walking isn't your thing, the event will have courtesy cars and pedicabs on hand for ticket-holders. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit UPark Elementary's website.

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