A guide to the Mile High City’s namesake home design. Drive around town and you can’t miss ’em. Denverites like to call the two-story, boxy, brick houses that line the streets of the Mile High City’s oldest neighborhoods “Denver Squares,” as if Denver were home to the design, but this simple yet elegant style is actually the American Foursquare. The home design was already popular in other parts of the country (usually made of wood) when Denver’s Grodavent Brothers published a plan for a brick version in 1895. Locals were so keen on the tweaked design that the Denver Square began popping up all over town—and hundreds are still around today. Here, Jim Bershof of Denver’s OZ Architecture gives us a tour of this local architectural staple. —SARAH RUMPLE
The design emerged at the tail end of the elaborate Victorian era, when folks were yearning for a more livable, simple design. Bershof describes the style as “a box with a roof on it.”
Don’t be fooled: The ample front dormer is not usually a third floor. It simply allows light to filter into the attic. Hip to be Square The roof is typically “hipped,” meaning it’s pointed like a pyramid.
Bricklayers Ever wonder why so many Denver homes are made of brick, including Denver Squares? In 1863, a large fire destroyed much of downtown Denver. Shaken officials changed the city’s building code to ensure all future buildings be constructed of masonry.
Watershed The overhanging eaves serve a functional purpose: keeping rain and snowmelt away from the exterior walls.
Sun Spot Light Bright
A front porch often stretches along the entire front of the house, in part so owners can partake in Denver’s best asset: sunshine.
Denver Squares don’t have a lot of windows, but the ones they do have are huge and symmetrical.
Originally, most Denver Squares had four main rooms on each floor (shown here): The kitchen, dining, family, and living rooms were on the first floor, while bedrooms and baths were on the second. Renovated versions often have a bathroom on the first floor and a built-out attic.
| 5280.COM | JUNE 2011
ILLUSTRATION BY ARTHUR MOUNT
5/11/11 11:54 AM