Architects Burnham and Merrill Hoyt grew up in the Victorian, Queen Anne Style home perched on the hill overlooking Jefferson Park. When their parents moved to the home as its first owners in the late 1880s, Burnham Hoyt was a toddler and Merrill a boy. By the time their widowed mother sold it in the 1930s, Merrill had already died unexpectedly and Burnham was well on his way to becoming Denver’s foremost homegrown architect. It was from this home that both Merrill and Burnham walked to local schools, first the Boulevard School and later North High School. It was to this home that Burnham returned after attending the L’Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris, and in this home that he pondered over his early designs for places like Lake Middle School and the Park Hill Library.
It’s hard not to wonder how the house, the neighborhood, and the schools of their youth influenced both Burnham and Merrill's prolific careers, including Merrill’s commitment to designing beautiful and affordable homes for the masses through the Architects Small House Service Bureau and of course Burnham’s shining glory, the design for Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Demolition is nothing new in Jefferson Park. Over the last several years dozens of 19th century homes and duplexes have been demolished and replaced by newer and larger development. The Hoyt House is by no means the first historically and architecturally significant home lost in the compact neighborhood. However, it is nearly the last, and its strong connection to people who fundamentally shaped the city we know and love makes its possible loss that much more meaningful.
Denver is experiencing tremendous growth. Historic Denver recognizes the need to add density, and to find creative solutions in an evolving city. Jefferson Park, at least in some sections, was identified as an Area of Change in the 2004 Blueprint Denver Plan. But does that mean nothing will remain to indicate the importance of what occurred in a place with such a long and proud history? Nothing to tell the stories of those who shaped, and were shaped, by its places and spaces. Nothing to express the architectural quality that was once the fabric of this community?
Burnham and Merrill Hoyt grew up in the house at 2849 W. 23rd Avenue. In fact, their parents were the first owners of the home, moving there in the late 1880s when Burnham was a very young child. From this home the brothers walked to their local Denver schools, including the Boulevard School and North High School, from which they both graduated. Denver Directories show that Burnham continued to reside in the home during his early adulthood and architectural practice, until he moved to New York City for a few years between 1926 and 1933. Merrill died suddenly in 1933, which caused Burnham to return to Denver, after which he married and moved to Potter Highlands. He later designed a home in Belcaro, where he lived until his death.
The brothers designed many of Denver's most architecturally significant buildings, many of which are locally and nationally designated.
The 4th Church of Christ, Scientist
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Merrill and Burhman -
The Park Hill Library
Denver Press Club
Lake Junior High School
Click here to read Burnham's biography from History Colorado.
Click here to read Merrill's biography from History Colorado