The newest painted lady of Highland, plus six more of Denver’s most colorful houses

The view from Wyandot Street. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

The scaffolding has just come down from one of the most ambitious paint jobs you’ll find in a historic Denver neighborhood. Meet the new painted lady of Wyandot Street.

Details of a freshly painted home on Wyandot Street. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Details of a freshly painted home in Highland. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

“It’s impossibly detailed. I’ve done six or seven of these in my life, the Victorians, but this is the most detailed of all of them,” says Leeland Morgan, an English teacher-turned-housepainter who speaks in Bill Murray’s unhurried style.

He has been edging the lines of the 125-year-old house by hand for the better part of this year, no masking tape needed.

Paintbrushes on Wyandot Street. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Paintbrushes on Wyandot Street. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

Naomi Salzman has owned the place for about 20 years, and it’s been a shade of evergreen that entire time. The idea for this new coat of paint (several, actually) came as her garden bloomed this spring.

“It was in the spring, when the irises were in bloom. It was like the best year, and these beautiful purple irises were abundant,” she explains. “It would be kind of fun,” she thought, “to match the house to the flowers.”

Later she’d add the blue of her periwinkles (which Morgan got by taking a flower to a local paint shop), accents of lime green and stripes of turquoise-blue.

“There’s just something about lime green,” she says, laughing freely. “If you ever see my abstract paintings, they have a lot of colors in them. They’re very bright, and they are very energetic.”

The view from Wyandot Street. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
The view from Wyandot Street. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

She was drawing inspiration in part from San Francisco, where rows of boldly painted houses eventually became the city’s “painted ladies,” as well as her own art, which favors big, colorful abstractions.

“People are looking at it — like crazy. I think the house deserves to be painted like that,” she says. All that color, she figures, highlights the incredible variety of architectural elements that make up the home’s face.

Details of a freshly painted home on Wyandot Street. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Details of a freshly painted home on Wyandot Street. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

Morgan, who also works as a carpenter, figures the place must have taken two years to build back in the 1890s, especially with all those soffits and corbels and eyeballs that he’s been laboring over.

Leeland Morgan poses with his paintbrush. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Leeland Morgan poses with his paintbrush. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
So many details. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
So many details. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

With the painting finally done, or nearly done, the owner hopes it will become a permanent splash of art on Wyandot Street.

“I think my house is happy now,” she says.

A happy home? (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
A happy home? (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
The side of the painted lady of Wyandot. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
The side of the painted lady of Wyandot. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Bonus round: More of our favorite paint jobs.

Got any suggestions? Email a photo and address to akenney@denverite.com.

A painted flamingo at 1550 Downing Street. (Ashley Dean/Denverite)
A painted flamingo at 1550 Downing Street. (Ashley Dean/Denverite)
Paint it black, 170 Ellsworth Ave. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Paint it black — and blue and purple — 170 Ellsworth Ave. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Check out these stripes on 5 Bannock St. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Check out this checkered pattern on 5 Bannock St. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
Rainbow stripes on 87 W. Maple Ave.
Rainbow stripes on 87 W. Maple Ave. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
A painted house on West Maple Avenue. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
A painted house on West Maple Avenue. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)
A painted house at Logan and Alameda. (Andrew Keney/Denverite)
A painted house at Logan and Alameda. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.