Denver City Council protects Krisana Park’s mid-mod homes

A mid-modern home on S. Edison Way in Virginia Village. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)virginia village; denver; residential real estate; houses; midmod; denverite; kevinjbeaty;
A mid-modern home on S. Edison Way in Virginia Village. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) virginia village; denver; residential real estate; houses; midmod; denverite; kevinjbeaty;
A mid-century modern home on South Edison Way in Denver’s Krisana Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The residents of Krisana Park really, really like their neighborhood’s Eichler-inspired mid-century modern homes.

“Don’t you love our homes?” is how Pamela Walsh described her new neighbors greeting her when she moved to Krisana Park in southeast Denver from California.

A conservation overlay unanimously adopted by the Denver City Council on Monday means those homes will largely maintain their character, including low-slung roofs, horizontal planes and no full second story.

The conservation overlay is a lesser form of historic preservation that does not prevent homes from being demolished, but it does impose limits on how homes can be remodeled in order to keep the feel of the neighborhood.

Denver developer H.B. Wolff and his son Brad Wolff built Krisana Park on a former alfalfa field in the 1950s as the city was experiencing a post-war boom that makes today’s growing pains seem modest. The Wolffs had visited California and been inspired by the modernist homes being built by Joseph Eichler.

Historic Denver and neighbors worked with the Center of Preservation Research at the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning to come up with a Krisana Park Pattern Book that identifies the principal home designs and floor plans and suggests complementary additions. The conservation overlay includes changes to setbacks, bulk planes and other zoning guidelines to make it easier to do additions in accordance with the pattern book.

The conservation overlay could become a model for other mid-century modern neighborhoods, though some residents of Harvey Park are considering going for a full historic district designation.

Krisana Park residents were nearly unanimous — 89 percent — in supporting the conservation overlay, in sharp contrast to a hostile landmark designation in Jefferson Park also on the City Council agenda Monday night. There were some hints that the Harvey Park designation might not go so smoothly.

Several residents of Harvey Park waited for hours to oppose the hostile landmark designation of a single Queen Anne home in Jefferson Park because they fear they could be next.

“We just learned we’re on the Historic Denver hitlist,” Ken Belo said.

No one spoke in opposition to the designation, though not everyone is on board. Resident after resident spoke lovingly of both the individual homes in Krisana Park, and the way they work together as a whole.

There’s a certain irony in the mid-mod revival as new urbanism remains all the rage among planners. Councilman Paul Kashmann, whose district includes Krisana Park, went so far as to praise the curvilinear street layout that breaks the harsh right angles the most of the city’s grid. The suburbs live!

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.