Modern in Denver
Fall 2016

What would Victor do?

When deciding the future restoration of a historic Denver property, the preservation-minded homeowners looked to the past for answers.

At One Eudora, Hornbein strived to make a quissential Colorado home, especially intent on using native materials. The key ingredient, red sandstones, was harvested near Lyons. In fact, construction depleted the designated quarry of product, prompting masons to buy up sandstone walkways around town to finish the job.

The low-slung vision for the house also showcased Hornbein's architectural grasp of prevailing local climate. Wide eaves shield the interior from sunlight, and every room has ingenious transom windows that can be opened and closed to regulate airflow.


Even in the coldest winter months, it's toasty inside during the day as a result of solar gains that Hornbein anticipated. Another triumph is the scale assigned to living spaces. Make no mistake, this is a large house, spanning more than 7,000 square feet. But it comes off as embracing rather than overpowering. "I'm impressed by the equality of transition from inside to out," said Caroll Hansen, an expert in local architectural history. "The artistry going on underneath the roof is only half the story. The exterior structures–the planters, the patios–have no less gusto."

The original property, which encompassed a city block, got

carved up over the years, thinning out parcels of former grandeur, including an orchard and a Hornbein-conceived tennis court. The court remains but now belongs to different owners. Aiming to fill in where subdivisions left holes in the greenery, we called on Marpa, a Boulder-based design firm.

"By exploring ways the house could be experienced through the landscape, and the landscape could be experienced through the house, I sought to create a series of spaces that would unveil a deep connection to the history of the property." said Marpa Principal Luke Sanzone.

Not a spot exists inside the window-laden One Eudora where you're not aware of the natural surroundings. A colossal spruce hedge wraps the property's southern boundary. Sanzone skirted it with dogwood on either side of the entrance, where a scuptural hawthorn tree blooms in May with white aromatic flowers. Up the pathway, you're met with rows of crabapple and boxwood interwoven with yarrow, hyssop, and Russian sage. A cloud-pruned Niwaki pine looks right at home in another planter, as does a rate Colorado orange apple tree. Outside two of the bedrooms, Marpa established a contemplation garden,

its serenity protected by sheared Bakeri. Splendor abounds, all under the shade of the tallest pin oak in the state.

Once our construction dust started flying in earnest, it was impossible to disregard Hornbein's presence when making decisions. Given our leaky introduction to living here, we tackled maintenance issues before moving on to a bigger desier: taking another swing at the aging kitchen remodel we'd inherited. That's when neighbor Dominick Sekich introduced himself as a board chair for Colorado Preservation, Inc., a not-for-profit committed to saving endangered places across the state.

Sekich, himself restoring a landmark house with partner Scott Van Vleet, saw in me a familiar passion and determined I was CPI board-worthy-a post that brought into focus the value of safeguarding historic addresses. "I feel someone needs to speak for the restrained dignity of an older home." Sekich said. "When one of these places is destroyed or its character changed, we stop communicating the subtle messages of the past and lose the distinct voice of our predecessors."

Wisdom of this gravity comes in handy when stitching back together a fragile environment. Lara and I took this

responsibility seriously, amassing blueprints, early property photographs, letters between Hornbein and his clients, and other material that informed our rehabilitation efforts.

Armed with research, I placed a call to Dave Steers, a historic preservation consultant who oversaw two bathroom restorations and buttoned up widespread deterioration. When the time came to address those hard decisions in our kitchen, we were lucky to hire Lou Bieker, principal at 4240 Architecture, and even luckier to bring on his sister,

Romy, who works in private practice at her firm, RoBa. The duo rendered a plan so in sync with the original setting, it's not immediately obvious what was done and what was already there.

One inspired gesture was extending into the kitchen a long run of cabinetry that originates in the living room, marrying old with new. At the end of the 37-foot span is a nifty coffee and tea cubby, which borrows design cues from an existing liquor cabinet, as does a three-door, match-grained pantry.

The kitchen's other woodwork is equally masterful, daring to harmonized a range niche, clerestory windows, light boxes, vents, speaker grilles, appliance doors, and storage of every imaginable rectangularity. The maple island weighs a ton. No kidding.

The architects sorted it all out with aplomb. "Our initial impulse was, 'How are we going to raise the ghost of Victor Hornbein?" Romy said. "But we went about it in a couple of ways–trying to match historical form and material where it made sense, and honoring architectural intent in other circumstances.

We felt confident, for example, bringing in state-of-the-art appliances and lighting because Hornbein himself epitomized state-of-the-art." Added Lou: "What continues to strike me is the energy everyone involved took in challenging the norm and committing to the aspirations of original design and construction. The collaboration among owners, designers, and builders was much more than coming with a can-do attitude and willingness to explore the fantastical or whimsical. It was poetry mixed with pragmatics."

It was Lou who suggested we hire Old Greenwich Builders to serve as general contractor. I worried the big boys wouldn't even entertain a kitchen remodel, staricase improvement, and roof redo. When the doorbell rang, it was owner Cress Carter. "When I saw the house for the first time," Carter recalled, "I immediately thought, 'I'm not leaving.' I have a weakness for cool houses, and this is really cool house."

Carter pulled superintendeds and subcontractors from his A-list.

A central figure was Flying C Woodwork's Mitch Clark, who took on the challenging role to "mathc existing." The outcomes were so good I didn't want anybody to leave, which expanded project scope and deepened investment in  a planned new staircase. The Biekers knocked out that design, too – another tour de force – but Rob Brindley of Modern Craftsman brought it to life. His team produced a spectacular zigzag of steel with a banister echoing original metalworkk at the house.

Floating hardwood treads and risers completed the package. "Our approach to fabrication was not unlike most projects," Brindley saide. "We created a digital model of the space and worked through all the problem-solving prior to installation. Every cut had to be excact. Perfect. We also had the hurdle of a narrow doorway to deliver a 2,000 pound, odd-shaped system.