Character-Defining Features of Curtis Park

These are the visual and physical features that give a historic building - and neighborhood - its identity and distinctive character.  By preserving and respecting the home’s original characteristics, you retain the house’s sense of place, time and belonging, and bolster community pride.  In Curtis Park, original building materials are important character-defining features, as are those specific physical traits associated with your building’s architectural style.   

See the character-defining features that the Denver Landmark Preservation has developed for Curtis Park.   


 Architectural Styles

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Italianate

In style in Curtis Park from its origins in the 1870s until about 1885.

Italianate   

Curtis Park boasts Denver’s largest collection of Italianate residential buildings.  Inspired by classic buildings of the Italian Renaissance and the more picturesque villas of the Italian countryside, this style was in vogue in Curtis Park from its origins in the 1870s until about 1885.  

  • Italianate homes are known for their flat or low hipped roofs, although some one-story examples in Curtis Park are front-gabled.

  • Curtis Park examples are typically tall, narrow and boxy in shape, sitting on raised stone foundations.  

  • One-story houses tend to be simpler, with less decoration.  

  • One- and two-story terrace (row house) examples are also found in the neighborhood, predominantly for multiple unit apartments, and have flat roofs with elaborate corbelled brick roof cornices.

  • While most homes have a flat front, more elaborate examples boast front or side tower bays.   

  • Italianate homes have symmetry with window openings on the upper floor typically imitating the pattern of those below.

  • These houses are almost always of red brick, although some today are painted or stuccoed.  

  • Ornamentation is typically restrained, and limited to windows, cornices, porches and doorways.   

    • An elaborate roof cornice with a roof eave supported by intricate wooden brackets is characteristic.  Decorative wooden trim enhances the roof cornice, and occasionally triangular pediments and iron roof cresting create additional emphasis.

    • Windows are typically simple double-hung wooden affairs with single panes of glass in the upper and lower sashes.

    • Windows and doors are almost always topped with rectangular, arched or curved hood molds of brick or stone.  

    • While some porches are restrained, some examples are showcases of ornate American millwork.  

    • The front doorway opening is typically composed of a single door or paired set of wooden doors, with large pane glazing above and a smaller raised panel below.  

    • A single-pane transom is above most doors.


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Queen Anne

Popular in Curtis Park from about 1885 to 1893.

Queen Anne   

The growth of the middle-class and industrialization of the U.S. freed up house shapes and encouraged exuberance.  The Queen Anne style celebrates this freedom of forms, decorated with mass-produced wooden ornamentation inside and out.  The Queen Anne style was popular in Curtis Park from about 1885 to 1893.

  • Queen Anne homes in Curtis Park are typically asymmetrical, with wall projections and recesses creating visual interest and whimsy.

  • This style is known for its complex roofs, but almost always featuring one or more gables on the front face.

  • A quintessential Queen Anne house uses wall surfaces to create a decorative and textured appearance from top to bottom, including brick and stone walls patterns and banding, and decorative wooden ornamentation in the front gables.  

  • These houses are almost always of red brick, although some are painted later, and many examples have stone foundations, banding, and window lintels and/or sills.

  • Other characteristic features include:

    • One or more arched windows, or windows with arched window ornamentation.  

    • Decorative wooden bargeboards and painted shingles in gables.

    • Gabled or shed porches, typically with turned porch columns, and often with ornate brackets, spindlework, and other applied decoration.

    • The front door is typically a wooden door with a single pane of glass in the upper half and one more raised panel below.  

    • A single-pane transom is above most doors.


Other Victorian-era homes

While some homes in Curtis Park are more quintessential Italianate and Queen Anne in style, others from the 1880s and 1890s are more eclectic, or represent an example of a more unusual style from that era.

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Victorian Eclectic

After the mid-1880’s.

Victorian Eclectic:

By the mid-1880s, owners could pick and choose which architectural details to apply to their home – such as a bay window, turret or Classical columns – often creating a surprising and elaborate result.   As such, some residences in Curtis Park mix Italianate and Queen Anne styling, as well as decoration from other styles such as the Classical Revival, Eastlake, and Stick styles.


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Second Empire

Beginning in the 1850s, and characterized by its distinctive mansard roof, and also typically hooded windows and a wide roof cornice.

Second Empire:

Several homes in Curtis Park are Second Empire, a style revived from France during the reign of Napoleon III beginning in the 1850s, and characterized by its distinctive mansard roof, often with metal or painted wooden shingles, and also typically with/ hooded windows and a wide roof cornice.   

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Romanesque

Best known for its rough-cut stone exteriors, towers with conical roofs, and round arches.

Romanesque:

Another less common architectural style found in Curtis Park is the Romanesque, best known for its rough-cut stone exteriors, towers with conical roofs, and round arches.  

20th Century

A small number of early 20th century historic homes appear in Curtis Park.  

Foursquare – or Denver Square –Residences:

By 1900, two-story Foursquare homes began appearing in Curtis Park, as a simpler alternative to elaborate Victorian styling.  These brick residences are boxy, typically with a square plan. They have little ornamentation, but typically feature full width porches, rectangular windows, broad hipped roofs, and centered front dormers.   Classical details such as raised triangular pediments and round porch columns are common.

Duplex and Rowhouses with Classical details:

The early 20th century brought more multi-family residential types to Curtis Park.   These are typically terrace type duplexes and rowhouses, with flat roofs, and brick corbelling at the roof cornice, but with less ornamentation than earlier examples.  Each unit has an outside entry, and most have small porches with hipped roofs and round porch columns. Some examples feature front-gabled porches with Craftsman details and stout square brick columns, while others have only simple shed awnings over the entry.  Windows are rectangular but more square-shaped than earlier residences.

Craftsman Updates:

Twins No More: The Victorian home on the left boasts its original elaborate porch while its twin on the right received a Craftsman porch facelift in the early 20th century.

Owners in the early 20th century wanting to update their Queen Anne and Victorian style homes often chose to add a Craftsman – or Bungalow – front porch.  Craftsman porches are typically large, extending the full width of a house front. Most porches are front-gabled, sometimes with exposed wooden trusses supported by sturdy square brick porch columns, railings, and low, brick walls.


Historic Building Materials

Historic building materials in Curtis Park give the neighborhood a richness and depth of quality.  

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Brick Exteriors

Use: exterior walls, banding and raised patterning, window sills/lintels, chimneys, and foundations.

Brick Exteriors

Curtis Park is a neighborhood of brick buildings.  Most late 19th and early 20th century buildings are constructed of standard-size, soft unglazed bricks that are smooth and of a medium red color.

Use: exterior walls, banding and raised patterning, window sills/lintels, chimneys, and foundations.   

For more information on maintenance of your historic brick home click here.


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Stone Trim

Use: foundations, window sills/lintels, banding or other decoration, and occasionally exterior walls.

Stone Trim

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, stone was a popular exterior building, although typically applied in small doses given that it was expensive.  The exterior stone details on your house are like decorations on a cake – adding whimsy, visual interest and dimension. In Curtis Park, you typically see creamy colored limestone, reddish brown sandstone, and rhyolite, roughcut or square cut for foundations above-grade, and cut and tooled for window lintels and sills, banding and other exterior wall decoration.   Some homes may also have terra cotta or cast stone trim, used for ornamentation similar to stone.

Use:  foundations, window sills/lintels, banding or other decoration, and occasionally exterior walls.

For more information on maintenance of historic stone click here.


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Wood Features

Use: Wood siding, windows and doors, front porches, foundation aprons and roof cornices, roof gables and shingles, banding, and trim.

Wood Features

Typically, builders employed wood generously on late 19th and early 20th century homes, given that wood was cheaper and more pliable than other materials. Architects and builders often added stylistic pizazz to late 19th century homes in Curtis Park by milling and crafting elaborate porch columns, brackets and cornices.  Gable ends and dormers were often clad in decorative wood shingles. Smooth-finished wood was also used for siding on some early homes, and for windows, as well as decorative trim. This wood was extracted from old growth trees with tighter growth rings than timber found today, and is superior to modern lumber milled from second- and third-growth stands.   

Use: Wood siding, windows and doors, front porches, foundation aprons and roof cornices, roof gables and shingles, banding and trim.

For more information on maintenance of historic wood click here.

This web content was added in 2019, and is accurate to the best of our abilities. Contact Denver Landmark Preservation for the most up-to-date and accurate information on the city's design review and permit requirements.