Old Mansion, New Office

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.

Kistler-Rodriguez House old photo

 

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.

The Denver Public Library has more information on the building here, and here’s a link to the National Register Nomination Form that was submitted to the Department of the Interior.

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.

6 thoughts on “Old Mansion, New Office

  1. Interesting and much the same as Cincy! Once our founders began to make money abd mover they “climbed” our hills and from the rim of the
    hills starting “merchant” residence suburbs.

    By the way our office is in the face of one our hills [we have 7] was built in 1920’s as an automobile agency [Hudson and DeSoto].
    and to the best of our knowledge it is the only building in the world with 5 floors and direct street access from each floor! We look
    directly westward accord the entire lower basin o the city, directly adjacent to I-71 and now across from the casino!

    Really nifty!
    Ralph W. Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT
    Senior Architect- Specifications

    • Ralph, it sounds like a really special building.

      I love old car dealership buildings. We have one in Denver that’s now a sporting goods store.

      I love that Cincinnati has 7 hills, just like Rome!

  2. I had my business Whiting Word Processing (a medical transcription company that was the first in the Denver metro area to convert from Selectric typewriters to now-vintage personal computers…in my case Zeniths!) in this building in the mid1980s (mid 1984 through early 1990) and was occupying the long, narrow portion that you may be referring to as the ‘glass box’, looking out onto the small courtyard/back entry off the strip of off-street parking spots. A conference room and a solo-practice attorney (a woman) who left the building prior to my leaving were across the beautiful lobby from my business’ entry doir…with the gorgeous spiral staircase leading up to a realty company, and a couple of mental health professionals on the 2nd floor. At the end of my office space, a Jungian psychologist with her office in what used to be the garage was not particularly happy that my business moved in to the long narrow empty area her clients had used to wait outside her office, and exit back into the lobby. Her ‘back door’ entrance inside a fence in the small garden area adjacent to the outside bench on tile entryway mentioned before was what she had to turn into her client entrance, and her ‘back door’ entrance actually became through my office space. Are you certain your dentist was there in the 80s? Or if so, certainly s/he could not have been the ‘primary occupant’ of the building at that time, as I’m not certain there even was a dentist there during my business’ occupancy. I loved that building, and one of my clients was a physician who had had some diplomatic position when the building was the Dominican Consulate…indeed the person who alerted me to the unique office space availability Very nostalgic to see this photo and read your commentary…thanks.
    Natalie Whiting (using my middle name Suzanne ‘Suzy’ until just after I left that building)

    • Thanks for your comment! The dentist may not have been the primary tenant at that time. I didn’t move to Denver until 1995, so don’t know from personal experience, but the dentist’s website says they’ve been in the same location since 1983.
      The glass box I mentioned is the 2-story black glass rectangular volume addition on the parking lot side – on the southwest part of the building.

  3. My offices were in the lower level of the ‘glass box’, looking out onto back tiled entryway. This section connected the main building and garage, converting the garage to office space too. My offices were first to left inside from entrance, past the small window, and my personal office and reception area were about 5-6 steps up from the rest of my space. We loved watching the squirrels and birds outside through the high windowed wall lookng out onto the tiled entry, where there was an iron trim ‘park bench’, as we worked Earlier, when I nstalgicly read your entry about the building, I forgot to mention that I’m surprised I can’t find any online photos from the 1980s or earlier of the grand foyer including the spiral staircase of the former DR consulate building…I hope the staircase wasn’t removed because an elevator was needed. What part of the building are you in?

  4. P.S., clarification… my offices were mostly in the transition brick area to the ‘glass box, backing up the converted garage/coach house, which us where the Jungian psychologist had er practice, and they constructed part of that ‘glass box’ to restore direct entry to her office space and waiting area. There is now, I believe, an Oriental Medicine practice in that garage space/glass box, unless that changed again. Looks like I cannot attach a photo here, but maybe I can come up with a link…

    https://www.google.com/search?q=oriental+Medicine+practice+at+700+East+9th+in+Denver,+CO&client=tablet-android-acer&prmd=mnsiv&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiT1bX6oeXOAhVJ12MKHaatAHMQ_AUICigE&biw=1024&bih=552#imgrc=-QHLnf_hNqj61M%3A

    My offices were partly in the old main buiding, a few steps down past my reception area and my personal office to the series of workstations in the high/low-windowed strip (with view of small gardened entryway area) added to connect the main building to the coach house, and a tiny section of the ‘glass box’ addition to the old coach house building. I believe the wall structure was again changed after 1990, when I vacated space in the building, so that the entirety of the coach house/glass box was dedicated to what may now be the Chinese Medicine (acupuncture/herbalist?) practice?

    Thanks for response! Do you have a photo of entrance to your office space and what floor is it on?

    Natalie

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