Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Denver Landmark Preservation Commission's delisting of 1888 bungalow leads to destruction

At this moment, I would be watching the sun come up -- but my view to the east is blocked by a huge construction project, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I'm not complaining -- the old tree that used to be on that lot blocked my view, too, until the new owners chopped it down -- but I feel for my neighbors.

They've been walled in by the project and lost all of their view. And I feel for the city, whose view of this historic area at the top of the bluff over downtown is now blocked, too.

"What is that they're building?" people ask me, after they spot the giant construction project at Central and Umatilla streets, perched right on the edge of the hill and impossible to miss if you're driving along Speer or I-25. According to a recent Denver Post story, it's a 6,000 square-foot, four-bedroom, eight-bathroom private home. The Post didn't mention what had been on this prominent parcel: an 1888 bungalow, the oldest home on our block and the last vestige of the modest workingman's homes that used to march all the way down the hillside to the Platte, before that neighborhood was erased by the Valley Highway.

Two years ago, the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission officially delisted that home, clearing the way for the construction -- and destruction -- to come. Today, the group will be considering another request to delist a historic home just up the street, in the 2900 block of Umatilla.

The location isn't as spectacular; if this house disappears -- and only the people who drive down the block will know that Denver's lost another piece of its past.

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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