Denver Approves 54th Historic District: Vassar School Bungalows

Welcome to the new Vassar School Bungalows Historic District.
Welcome to the new Vassar School Bungalows Historic District. Denver Community Planning & Development
A few years ago, you never saw the word "Rosedale" attached to the neighborhood just south of Platt Park and Evans Avenue, sandwiched between the University of Denver and Overland neighborhoods. Not even if you lived there — and despite the fact that Rosedale is the official name on the Denver neighborhood map.

But then the Post Rosedale, a second location of the Post Brewing Co., landed at 2200 South Broadway, serving up the Rosedale name as well as great fried chicken and beer. (Changing its name to the Rosedale didn't help Boone's Tavern; that spot closed earlier this year.)

But now Rosedale has another landmark: the Vassar School Bungalows Historic District, a row of Spanish Revival-style bungalows built in 1925 and 1926 on Vassar Avenue just east of Acoma Street. Denver City Council made it official on Monday, October 22, after the homeowners and District 6 Councilman Paul Kashmann applied for historic designation back in August. The Rosedale site is the city's 54th historic district.

Denver Community Planning & Development
It's named for the long-gone Vassar School, which was built in 1892, when this area was part of the Town of South Denver, two years before it was annexed by the City of Denver. Vassar School taught students from the Rosedale and Overland neighborhoods from kindergarten through eighth grade until 1924, when the school closed and the property was sold to Albert Franz, who constructed the bungalows on the six-lot site.

Denver Community Planning & Development
In order to qualify for landmark designation, an applicant must meet all three of the city's designation criteria, demonstrating significance in history, architecture and geography, and go through the Landmark Preservation Commission, the Planning Board and Denver City Council’s Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee before moving to the full council. "Franz’s development illustrates the growth trends of south Denver along the South Broadway corridor during the pre-Great Depression era," Jenny Buddenborg, senior city planner with Community Planning and Development, noted in her recommendation that the application be approved.

"Vassar School Bungalow Historic District exhibits a high level of physical integrity that successfully conveys the distinguishing characteristics of the Spanish Revival architectural style," Buddenborg's report continued. "The buildings were not designed by a master architect, but a significant degree of thought and resourcefulness was implemented into the design of the district. In an innovative move, materials from the former Vassar School were incorporated into the properties."

The structures aren't as massive as some of the mansions that occupy other historic districts, but they give a far better feel of how people lived in this part of town ninety years ago, as Denver was just beginning to develop. Welcome to Rosedale.

Read Community Planning and Development's full report here
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun