Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Denver history becomes history: The oldest house on my block bites the dust

I watched the sun rise a little earlier this morning -- not because the days are growing longer, but because history suddenly got a lot shorter.

On Friday, the oldest house on the historic block where I live suddenly disappeared. We knew it was going, of course. Two years ago, the home's owner asked the city's Landmark Preservation Commission to de-list the building, citing the numerous changes that had been made to the pre-1890 bungalow, the last reminder of a row of bungalows that used to run down the hillside to where I-25 is today. And once the LPC agreed that it was a "non-contributing structure," the house's days were numbered.

Its number came up on Friday.

The LPC did not approve the first set of plans for a new house that would replace this very old house -- the house that had been owned by the man who led the fight to have the block declared historic in the first place, who sold it to people he was sure would love it as much as he did. But last April, a new owner and a new architect came up with a plan that the LPC okayed as being in character with this 1890s neighborhood, which set the wheels in motion for the bungalow's demolition.

Now that it's gone, I can see far to the east, a view that lays out so much of the city's history -- the industrial buildings past downtown, and the train yards, and the confluence of Cherry Creek and the Platte, where Denver got its start.

And since the wholesale clearing of the lot included taking out a tree (alert, city forester), I've even got a great sightline into Coors Field.

But I'm not going to set up my fourth of July fireworks-watching party just yet. The past may have disappeared, but the future of this plot is clear.

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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