Architecture

Historic Mansion Built by Cruise Room-Famous Architect Hits the Market

A small piece of Denver's history is for sale.

Last week, the six-bedroom, three-and-a-quarter-bath home at 1790 Forest Parkway hit the market for $1,900,000.

The 9,300-square-foot home was built in 1931 by architect Gilbert Charles Jaka, who two years later designed the Oxford Hotel's Art Deco Cruise Room cocktail lounge, which famously opened the day after Prohibition was repealed. Jaka was also involved in the design of the long-demolished Rainbow Ballroom and Adams Hotel and two homes in Denver that are still standing, at 1601 and 1611 Grape Street.

"Jaka is known to have done some of the earliest modern houses in Denver,” says Brent Jones, a real-estate broker with Kentwood City Properties, the firm that is selling the Forest Parkway home. “His style would be known more to be Art Deco or International than, say, a French Normandy,” which has qualities of medieval European architecture. 
The home on Forest Parkway was a custom build.

"It was completely done the way the client wanted it to be done,” says Jones, a self-described “anal-retentive history nut.” “It's kind of French Normandy on the outside with a very customized Art Deco interior," which, Jones adds, summons Paris in the early 1920s. 

Jaka brought over Danish and Swedish craftsmen to work on the home, which could account for the Scandinavian botanical-themed inlaid wood doors found throughout the interior. (The original owner was heavily involved in the Denver Botanic Gardens, Jones says.) The home has had two, possibly three, owners, the first of whom lived there for almost fifty years.

Jaka grew up in Utah before finding a home and a successful career in Denver, according to Denver, the City Beautiful. He left in the early 1940s; after having served in World War I, he decided to enlist in World War II. After the war, he worked as an architect in Washington, D.C., and never returned to Denver.

Continue to see more photos from the home.

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Ana Campbell has been Westword's managing editor since 2016. She has worked at magazines and newspapers around the country, picking up a few awards along the way for her writing and editing. She grew up in south Texas.
Contact: Ana Campbell