Did You Know?

Some of Burnham Hoyt's most famous designs in Colorado include Red Rocks Amphitheater, the Central Public Library, and Lake Junior High School.

A Threatened Touchstone


On November 21 Denver City Council voted 7-4 against the landmark designation of the home at 2849 W. 23rd Avenue in Jefferson Park. This vote ended a process that began with an application for a Certificate of Non-Historic Status submitted by the property owner in August.  Certificates of Non-Historic provide a 5-year window in which a property can be demolished without further historic review.  As required by the Demolition Review provision of Chapter 30 of the Revised Municipal Code the home was posted for public notice because it was found eligible for individual landmark designation due to its strong association with Burnham and Merrill Hoyt, important Colorado architects.  Denver City Councilman Rafael Espinoza submitted a historic designation application so the home would have full consideration before facing demolition.  Hoyt designs include Lake Junior High, the Park Hill Branch Library, the Central Branch of the Denver Public Library (now connected to the Michael Graves addition), and most famously, Red Rocks Amphitheater.



Seeking a Preservation-Minded Buyer

Historic Denver believed the best solution to this situation, in which the owner did not support designation, was to find a preservation-minded buyer for the house.  The owner of the house did agree to let Historic Denver try to find the buyer for the home, but has indicated that offers must be for both the Hoyt House at 2849 W. 23rd Avenue as well as the neighboring property at 2839 W. 23rd as the two owners have agreed to sell the properties concurrently.

The two homes each sit on lots that are just over 6,250 sq. ft.  The zoning is G-MU-3.  Opportunities exist to redevelop portions of the sites to add additional residential units while preserving what is most important.  Or, the homes could continue as single-family residences.

While the public hearing and vote are now over, and Historic Denver is uncertain of whether the owner has already accepted an offer on the property, we hope the owner will continue to consider interest from creative developers willing to include the historic home in a future development.  


Why it Matters

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?



History

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. 

Burnham - 
Cherokee Castle
The 4th Church of Christ, Scientist 
Central Library
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