Denver, CO

Denver council denies landmark status for home resembling cartoon house

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) A famous Denver house resembling something out of “The Flintstones” won't become Denver’s latest landmark.

The Denver City Council voted 8-2 against granting the home at 401 N. Madison St. landmark designation. Councilmembers Candi CdeBaca and Debbie Ortega voted yes.

The home went up in 1979 and served as the personal residence of an architect and trailblazer in energy conservation, Richard L. Crowther. The house is an expression of a country uneasy with the global energy crisis of the 1970s.

The home harnesses the energies of the sun to minimize its impact on the environment. However, the property has been abandoned. It has become overgrown with weeds and plays host to people experiencing homelessness. Its owner, Michael Hughes, wants to tear the historic structure down and build a pair of duplexes.

Worth saving from the wrecking ball?

But Thomas Hart wants the city to declare the house a landmark and save it from the wrecking ball.

City staff said the structure is eligible for landmark status for several reasons, including:

· The structure, while vandalized, has “maintained its integrity,” according to backup documents provided to the City Council.

· The building is more than 30 years old

· The structure is “of exceptional importance,” according to the backup documents.

· “It embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style or type.”

· “It is a significant example of the work of a recognized architect or master builder.”

· “It contains elements of design, engineering, materials, craftsmanship, or artistic merit which represent a significant innovation or technical achievement.”

· “It is associated with social movements, institutions, or patterns of growth or change that contributed significantly to the culture of the neighborhood, community, city state or nation.”

The City Council will consider the historic preservation request at its Dec. 12 meeting. There also will be a public hearing on the application.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

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