Odd Spots: Why the red and white house at Alameda and Logan has so many flowers

Francis Fontonia in her house of flowers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

rose house; logan; residential; speer; odd spots; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite;

Francis Fontonia doesn’t speak much English, but there are two things that she’ll tell visitors who don’t speak Greek.

Francis Fontonia in her house of flowers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) rose house; logan; residential; speer; odd spots; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite;
Francis Fontonia in her house of flowers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

First, that she’s been living in her Denver home for the past 55 years. Second, that she’ll only sell her two duplexes for a million dollars each.

Never mind that nearby houses have sold for around $500,000 each recently, $579,000 at the highest. These two houses have a feature that no other houses in the neighborhood, maybe even in Denver, have — an expansive rose garden in towering concrete planters and at least one bathtub, all painted the same tomato-red as the house.

Francis Fontonia, Jimmy Treantos, a neigbor, in front of Fontonia's house of flowers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) rose house; logan; residential; speer; odd spots; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite;
Francis Fontonia with Jimmy Treantos, a neighbor, in front of Fontonia’s home. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Family acquaintance Jimmy Treantos says the roses are her gift of appreciation to the city. Roses, just because she happened to admire their beauty.

The gardens have “pretty much always been here,” since he met her in the late 1950s. They did start off smaller though. Her garden enhancements over the years have given her a sense of pride, a sense of achievement and “a sense of prosperity in America,” Treantos says.

Francis Fontonia, Jimmy Treantos, a neigbor, and Felixx Welliver, her tenant, in front of Fontonia's house of flowers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) rose house; logan; residential; speer; odd spots; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite;
Francis Fontonia, Jimmy Treantos, a neighbor, and Felixx Welliver, her tenant, surrounded by Fontonia’s roses. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

But Fontonia is prepared to leave Denver and her gardens behind to go back to Greece, Treantos says. The city has changed, he says, with more traffic and more people.

If the properties sell, renter Felixx Welliver will need to find a new place to live. He’s been living here contentedly for a few years now. It’s his “most colorful living situation” ever.

Francis Fontonia's house of flowers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) rose house; logan; residential; speer; odd spots; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite;
Lions and lambs all get leis. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

“You can’t live here with the same expectations. I’ve done a lot of repairs myself,” Welliver says. “But it’s also almost like a family situation. I know what she’s saying with her tone of voice, her body language.”

Francis Fontonia in her house of flowers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) rose house; logan; residential; speer; odd spots; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite;
Francis Fontonia enters her house, decorated with Christmas lights. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

I’d like to think that’s true. When the camera comes out, Fontonia seems delighted to show off her home. She produces gardening ribbons and waves them around.

Francis Fontonia in her house of flowers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) rose house; logan; residential; speer; odd spots; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite;
Francis Fontonia in her house of flowers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

If she leaves, Denver would certainly lose a personality. Treantos hopes that they would at least keep her gardens.

Francis Fontonia in her house of flowers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) rose house; logan; residential; speer; odd spots; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite;
Francis Fontonia in her house of flowers. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

“As a memory to her,” he says. “I’d hope they would continue to (treasure) her memory.”