This blog post has been a long time coming and I can’t wait to share the Bosler house with you! I am breaking this post up into two parts because there is too much goodness to fit into one. This post will focus on the exterior restoration of the property and the next post will be focused on the interior details.
This is a particularly fun home feature because I collaborated with close friends of mine. Steve and Jan Davis are the owners of the Bosler House and are responsible for bringing this piece of Denver history back to life. The photographer for this blog post is another close friend, Sarah Lechner, who owns Sarah Renee Photography.
What was once an eyesore, is now the crown jewel of the Highlands neighborhood! Let’s get started with the history of this property and why it is so special.
The Bosler House | History
The Bosler house was built in 1875 by Ambrose Bosler and became one of the first homes built in North Denver (now the Highlands neighborhood). This home was built right before Colorado received statehood status.
Check out the full feature of the Crown Jewel of the West Highlands in 5280 Magazine!
In the early 1900s, the property was purchased by Dr. John Tilden who used the house as the administration building for The Tilden School for Health. This school set a national model for patients taking care of themselves through dietary and hygienic practices.
Here is a postcard that Steve and Jan found when the home was the Tilden Health School.
The ownership of the Bosler House continued to change hands throughout the 1900s. In 1987, the home got a new owner and he had big changes planned for the house. Unfortunately, these changes did not meet the standards of the Denver Landmark Commission.
The owner spent years battling with the City of Denver and the Landmark Commission over the un-permitted changes he was making to the home. Eventually, he applied for a permit to demolish the property entirely. These requests were all denied.
This owner had attempted to alter the roof in order to make the attic into living space, but adding windows and changing the historic roofline is not allowed on Landmarked properties. While battling with the city, parts of the roof were left open for 6 years.
In the end, the city foreclosed on the property in an effort to save it. The interior of the home had been gutted, with very few original features remaining in the property.
The Bosler House | Exterior Restoration & Preservation
Meet Steve and Jan Davis | Owners
When the Bosler House went on the market in 2017, Steve was immediately intrigued. Steve and Jan had spent years flipping homes in the Highland neighborhood and were looking for their next big project. Steve is a licensed contractor and Jan is a master at creating gorgeous English gardens.
I met Steve and Jan when we moved into our second house in the Berkeley neighborhood of Denver, CO. They owned the house a few doors down and were beginning their plans to renovate the home.
From the day we met them, they were so welcoming and generous with their knowledge. Steve would often mentor me when it came to home renovation and the business of flipping houses.
One of the many things I admire about Steve and Jan is their respect for the history of a neighborhood and the design of the original home. Instead of scraping the tiny Craftsman Bungalow and building a large multi-unit property to maximize profit, they popped the top (added a second story) and created a beautiful single-family home that fit the period of when it was first built in the 1930s.
They are the type of couple everyone wants in their neighborhood. They are friendly, their home is the prettiest on the block and you can usually find them on their porch with a basket of Dollar Tree toys for kids to take and enjoy.
When Steve told me he was buying this home, I knew they were the PERFECT couple to bring this house on a hill back to life. The North Denver community now gets to enjoy the view of a beautiful historic home and an award-winning garden every day.
Exterior Restoration | Phase 1
Steve and Jan became the official owners of the Bosler House in March of 2017. Their first priority was to make the home structurally sound and restore the roof to its original configuration.
When preserving a historic home, the owners must get all improvements to the exterior approved by the Denver Landmark Commission. The materials used and the design of all improvements should be as close to the original architecture as possible.
Check out my Homes.com article to find out what you should know before buying a Historical Home.
The wood trim on the exterior was in terrible condition. In most instances, a historical homeowner will be required to restore the existing trim, however, this wood was in such bad condition it had to be replaced.
Steve didn’t waste any time clearing the yard to prepare for the landscaping and new front walk to the house. Jan started dreaming up her garden design right away.
Replicating Exterior Details
Steve and Jan worked with experts to duplicate the original corbel and trim design on the home.
As each corbel and trim piece was finished, they would bring them back to the home to prime and paint before installation.
Jan scoured salvage shops in search of period details and materials for the home. They came across an iron railing that they believe was once the cresting on the home.
It was made in the correct time period and had matching paint splatters that they also found on the brick of the home. This railing detail was replicated for the roof and tower.
Exterior Paint Colors
Steve and Jan researched Italianate & Victorian-style homes from the 1800s and exterior paint colors that often were used. They also looked at the house for clues of its past.
They found old paint remnants on lower bricks of the house that hinted at previous changes made to the home. Steve and Jan used all of this information when making design decisions for the home.
Jan read books on historic Italianate homes and consulted a color expert when deciding on the exterior paint colors. The exterior paint color is one of the few improvements that did not require approval from the Denver Landmark Commission.
Steve decided he didn’t have enough going on and added painting his ENTIRE house to the list. He is seriously the energizer bunny!
Exterior Renovations | Phase 2
A year after starting this renovation and about 6 months after moving into the property, Steve and Jan began phase two. The most exciting project of this phase was the construction of the beautiful tower that had been missing for so many years.
Luckily Steve is not afraid of heights because he spent a lot of time on scaffolding painting the trim on the tower.
The stone window sills and medallions were each replaced and custom wood windows were installed. A beautiful custom front door was also installed to welcome guests as they enter the home.
The Bosler House Garden
When Steve and Jan bought this house, I was really curious about what they would do with the large front yard. My first thought was, how are you going to have any privacy with only a front yard?
To say I was blown away by what they created is an understatement.
They restored this beautiful home and designed an outdoor space that continuously serves the community. The Bosler House sits in front of a large park and playground and their home is a beautiful focal point for its daily visitors. It’s like a secret garden that the public gets to enjoy every day.
The front yard is broken up into a few different spaces, but it all fits together perfectly. On one side of the sidewalk is the stunning English garden. On the other side of the sidewalk are the vegetable garden and outdoor eating area that can be accessed by a door in the kitchen.
Outdoor Eating Area
Steve built a pergola and Jan planted clematis, providing additional privacy from the neighbors.
This vegetable garden is SO impressive! I’m still trying to figure out how to get a tomato plant to survive and Jan could feed the whole neighborhood with her garden.
Along with successfully growing all kinds of fruits and vegetables, it is also a work of art in itself. It is perfectly laid out to access all of the food while still pleasing to the eye.
Thank you, Steve and Jan for always being so generous with your home! You have created a masterpiece!