No, no, that’s not a flying saucer sitting at Hampden Avenue and Broadway –– it’s a bank! That said, it is a rather unusual bank and there’s more to it than meets the eye.
The attention-grabbing structure is the creation of Charles Utter Deaton, a prolific architect who experimented in futuristic expressionist design. What is now the Community Banks of Colorado building was just one iteration of this experiment in breaking from the norm in building design.
According to a display about Deaton inside the bank, the architect was born in 1921 and never attended college. Overcoming Depression-era poverty, Deaton instead learned his craft from a high school drafting class and experience working for Lockheed Martin making aerodynamic parts from sheet metal. At the tender age of 16, the in-wall biography says, he was already making money as an artist for hire. He moved to Denver in 1955.
Deaton was a “bank-design specialist,” working on both architecture and interiors for a number of such structures. Like many architects, he also dabbled in furniture and even invented a ceiling lighting system called “squiggle.”
Deaton’s most famous work was the house he designed for himself in Jefferson County, known as the Sculptured House. You film geeks out there will recognize it from Woody Allen’s 1973 futurist comedy “Sleeper.” This house of a future-that-was has been subject of some scorn in recent years, and this anecdote about an attempted sale by Deaton in 1988, relayed in a Westword column, is pretty remarkable:
“It sat on the market until 1991, when Larry Polhill, the president of American Pacific Financial Corporation, purchased it. Polhill started the Deaton-planned addition but never completed it or finished the interior, and by the mid-1990s, the Sculptured House was essentially abandoned, left in a vandalized state with plywood sheets covering its many broken windows. By the late 1990s, the Sculptured House was one of the most endangered historic buildings in Colorado.
“It was at the same time that the Sculptured House was falling into ruin that, after years of declining health, Deaton died in a nursing home in Morrison on December 18, 1996. Unfortunately, in one of those truth-is-more-tragic-than-fiction episodes, the model of the Sculptured House was accidentally knocked over and destroyed at Deaton’s memorial service.”
His aesthetic was founded in organic shapes, fitting for an artist surrounded by Colorado’s natural beauty. This fact is reflected in the park surrounding the Englewood bank, the Samuel L. Love Greenway, which garnished this naturally-inspired structure with actual nature. Love was the mayor of Englewood during the bank’s construction.
It’s a great setting from which to observe Deaton’s bank building. But a word to the wise: Take your time to walk around the creek. Attempting to jump it is, let’s say, ill-advised.