Did you know?

William Lang was Denver's most prolific residential architect in the late 1880s, but left the city after the silver crash of 1893, never to return.

Is Denver's 52nd Historic District on S. Lincoln? Yes!

In early 2013 neighbors from the 200 South block of Lincoln Street approached Historic Denver to explore the possibility of creating a small historic district for their block, which is home to numerous Victorian-era homes designed by well-known architect William Lang. For more than two years the neighbors have worked diligently to prepare a designation application, which was unanimously approved by Denver City Council on May 16, 2016, making the S. Lincoln District Denver's 52nd historic district!

Congratulations to the neighbors who did a great job working together to ensure their homes remain a part of Denver's unique identity for years to come!

About the Homes on South Lincoln

Construction on the residences of the 200 block of South Lincoln began when Alameda was the city of Denver’s southern boundary with the town of South Denver. Denver rapidly expanded its boundaries to incorporate neighboring towns during Denver’s peak growth period from the 1870 to the 1890. Seven of the eight structures on the east side of 200 S. Lincoln, and six of the eleven structures on the west side of 200 S. Lincoln, were completed before South Denver was incorporated into Denver in December of 1892. This demonstrates how Denver’s historical development was rapidly expanding towards its boundary with the city’s southern neighbor. Millie Van Wyke’s book, The Town of South Denver, explains that another one of the reasons the city of Denver needed to annex the town of South Denver was to add more taxable property because of the country’s declining economy. Denver industries, such as the street railway and water companies were also serving nearby towns which also contributed to their incorporation into the City of Denver.

The block contains sixteen Queen Anne residences built between 1886 and 1895, which was a dominant style of architecture towards the end of Denver’s peak growth period. On the west side of the block are eight homes designed by prominent Denver architect William Lang (see appendix F). After the Silver Crisis of 1893, new construction in Denver slowed and architecture became less extravagant because there was less money and some citizens believed that extravagant spending on homes contributed to the recession following the Silver Crisis. The decrease in funding following the Panic of 1893 is embodied in the three Denver Square residences on the block that were built in 1906. This was a common residential design to build affordable single-family and multi-family homes in Denver following Denver’s peak growth period.

William Lang designed eight houses on the west side of the 200 block of South Lincoln Street. A Biography of William A. Lang, by Charles O. Brantigan explains that there a number of buildings that are listed on the U.S. Nation Register of Historic Places land designed Lang in partnership with Marshall Pugh, including the Molly Brown House Museum and well known bed and breakfast, the Castle Marne.  Lang designed over 250 Denver buildings in the span of less than a decade. Brantigan also explained that Lang saw the demand to design lower cost housing with the same “characteristically eclectic flair” as the mansions he designed. The biography also explains that some historians noted he would build townhouses in a row of five or so, proceeding from the simple to the more complex. The row of eight Lang houses, separated by one house with an unknown architect, on the block of 200 South Lincoln Street is likely the largest intact group of Lang homes remaining in Denver.

The Lang homes on this block are not only likely the largest group of Lang homes left, but they were also constructed towards the end of his life, as the architect entered a downward spiral that culminated in his death when he was hit by a train August 21st 1897. Following the Silver Crisis, the market for elaborate homes disintegrated and William Lang was in serious financial trouble. Lang’s biography explains that he had built so many homes that he had about 200,000 dollars worth of loans when the Panic of 1893 struck and he would quit claim on them to anyone willing to assume the loans. Lang continued to practice architecture and designed houses for wealthy individuals with interests that were less affected by the Silver Crisis. One of these individuals was WB Merrill, who was the original owner of all of the Lang homes on this street. Although Lang still had some success after the Silver Crisis, he never recovered from financial ruin. Brantigan’s biography explains that “Lang was clearly not a manager,” and his inability to recover was likely because he had a falling out with his agent, Mattie Fox, his wife, Delia, was bedfast and unable to advise William as she had in the past and had taken the lead as William suffered from mental breakdown. The final blow to William’s career was his separation from his wife, this left William without his most important advisor who was also likely running his business.