I’ve settled in to my new office.
At the beginning of January, I moved my office from a 1972 building in Cherry Creek to a 1920 building in Capitol Hill. Although there’s so much to love about my new office, the gentle hot-water heating and the natural light are at the top of my list. The loud 1970’s HVAC and fluorescent lights in the old office were wearing on me.
I’m now in the Historic Kistler-Rodriguez House. Here’s an old photo, which I copied from the nomination form for the building’s historic designation.
Denver’s Capitol Hill has a number of large old mansions that are currently used as office buildings. There’s an interesting reason for this. Denver’s 1957 zoning code drastically “up-zoned” Capitol Hill, which at that time was covered with single-family houses, to residential high-rise zoning.
Capitol Hill’s proximity to downtown Denver makes its land valuable, so demolishing houses to make way for high-rises started to make a lot of economic sense. But Denver’s citizens didn’t want all of its historic mansions destroyed, so an interesting exception was carved out in the zoning code to allow for designated Historic buildings in residential-zoned districts to be used for office use.
The highest and best use for these properties was suddenly less clear. Demolition to make way for more dense income-producing residential buildings was no longer necessary; with a few alterations, these buildings could generate more income per-square-foot as office buildings than they could as residential buildings. This exception saved many historic buildings from destruction by allowing them to produce more income for their owners than residential use could, which de-incentivized their demolition.
Shortly after the photo above was taken in 1982, a “glass box” addition was added to the south side of the building. It’s a pretty cool addition, and, to use a word favored among architects, a nice juxtaposition of 1920’s and 1980’s.
The Kistler-Rodriguez House, also known as the Dominican Republic Consulate, was designed by Jules J.B. Benedict, and was built in 1920. It was designated (entered into the National Register of Historic Places) in 1983.
I’ve often called the building the “Governor’s Park Dental” building, because my dentist has been the main tenant of the building for the last 30 years.
Working on historic preservation in Denver is still important today. Among other things, Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods (CHUN) Historic Preservation Committee works on getting historic buildings designated as Historic. To get involved, start by learning more, here.