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The Future Of The Hut Unclear

Owners Of 1980 Albion Apply For Non-Historic Designation

By Bernadette Kelly, Zoning Chair, GPHC, Inc.

Rich with history, the Craftsman-style home known as The Hut at 1980 Albion was built in 1901. The new owners have applied for Non-Historic Status for the property, leaving its future uncertain. Photo by Cara DeGette

 A 5,644 square foot home, called “The Hut,” sits on a 33,384 square foot lot at 1980 Albion St. The Hut was built more than a century ago, by Charles Alfred Johnson, Sr.

The architect was likely Theodore Davis Boal, a popular Colorado architect at the time. Boal was the architect for several buildings that are either on local, state or national historic registers. There is Lowell Elementary in Colorado Springs, Ferguson-Gano House and Grant-Humphreys Mansion in Denver and Osgood Gamekeeper’s Lodge and Osgood Castle in Redstone, Colo.

The Hut, designed in the Craftsman Style, was built in 1901, and added onto in 1908.

Its style is indicative of New England cottages along the Atlantic coastline.

Johnson was born in Salem, Mass. in 1868, the son of a doctor and state legislator. His family had initially immigrated to Massachusetts from England in the 1600s. Johnson moved west to Denver in 1891 and became engaged in the real estate business. In 1893, he formed a partnership with businessman, Henry K.T. Lyons and befriended Baron von Winkler, owner of the Park Hill Ranch and who is generally credited with establishing the neighborhood.

At the time of the Baron’s death in 1898, Johnson had the task of handling his estate. Selling off portions of the ranch contributed to the financial success of Lyons & Johnson real estate.

Johnson’s contributions to society include serving as president of the Rocky Mountain Highway Association, president of the Colorado Good Roads Conference Association, and president of Denver Real Estate Exchange in 1898 and 1899. He also served in the Colorado National Guard for seven years. He spent his leisure time at the Denver Country Club and as member of the Society of Colonial Wars.

If these walls could talk

Johnson’s first wife was Lucy Braman. They had two children, Barbara and Jarvis. Lucy died just a few weeks after Jarvis was born, in March 1899. His second wife was Anne Valliant Burnett. Anne and Charles did not have any children and Anne passed away in 1914. Charles married Alice Phillips (nee Gifford), around 1920. She had a son from her first marriage, Gifford Phillips. Charles and Alice had one son, Charles Alfred, Jr., born in 1922.

Three years later, Charles and Alice began building a home near Sedalia in Douglas County. Designed by Burnham Hoyt, what was to be a small summer home expanded into a 15th Century-style Scottish castle. They named it Charlford Ranch after their two sons. The family lived there until after World War II, when they returned to live in Denver.

 Meanwhile, Charles’ older two children, Barbara and Jarvis, had remained in Denver. Jarvis married Helen Raynor in 1923 and they lived in a home at 4150 Montview Blvd. Barbara married Stanley Herbert Johnson, the son of the Episcopal Bishop of Colorado, in 1921. They lived in The Hut until their divorce in 1937. Barbara then moved to Chicago with her children.

Johnson suffered from a stroke in 1949 and he and Alice made a temporary move to California. Alice died there in a drowning accident in her pool. Johnson remained, but made visits each summer to Denver, staying at the Brown Palace Hotel. He died in Los Angeles in 1954 and lies at rest in Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery.

Gifford Phillips, stepson of Charles, Sr., grew up in The Hut, as well as at Charlford Ranch. Phillips met Joann Kocher at a Democratic Party event and they married in Los Angeles in 1953. They went on to live a life together rich in political activism, social justice, art and culture.

After the Johnsons

As for the residents of the home after the Johnsons and to the present day, the master property record for 1980 Albion St. lists Harry Youngman and Rhoda Kleeman as owners from 1955 to 1964. Youngman was born in Austria in 1905 and arrived in the states with his family in 1913. They initially resided in Brooklyn, N.Y. before moving to Denver before 1930. The couple lived at various Park Hill addresses before landing at The Hut.

John Arthur and his wife Josephine (nee Piccolo) purchased the home in 1967. They divorced in 1980, and Josephine remained in the home with her children. Even after the children grew up and moved away, she stayed in The Hut for several decades until her death in March of this year at age 97.

Could The Hut Be Demolished?

The current owners purchased the home in June of this year. They are longtime Park Hill and Mayfair residents. They had put the home back on the market, but have since removed it. The owners have applied for a “Certificate of Non-Historic Status” from Denver Community Planning and Development (CPD).

Per the City of Denver website, the explanation is thus:

“Denver preservation planners review all permit applications for total demolition, including those for structures not considered historic. This requirement helps preserve Denver’s history by giving the community an opportunity to protect buildings that prove to have historic, architectural and geographical significance. Properties that prove not to be historic are cleared to seek a total demolition permit. If a review reveals that a property may qualify for historic designation, total demolition may not be allowed.

“Owners of non-landmark, non-historic-district properties who are not currently planning demolition but who want increased certainty about a potential future demolition may apply for a Certificate of Non-Historic Status, which involves a similar level of review. If a Certificate of Non-Historic Status is issued, a property owner or owner’s agent may proceed with a demolition application without further Landmark Preservation review for a period of five years.”

Meets Historic Criteria

On Oct. 26, the city planning department (CPD) notified Greater Park Hill Community, Inc. of the application for Certificate of Non-Historic Status (CHNS). City planners sent their staff findings, which indicate that the property does meet the criteria for historic designation. These criteria are in three categories: history, architecture and geographic location.

The tool available to the community to either stall or halt the demolition of the structure is an application for Historic Landmark Designation. This application was due to the city planning department by Friday, Nov. 23. A group of neighbors and interested persons submitted an application by the deadline. Landmark Preservation staff will review the application. Once complete, it will be set for a public hearing before the Landmark Preservation Commission. If determined that the property meets the criteria for landmark designation, the application will be forwarded to Denver City Council for final approval of Historic Landmark Designation.

Recent “hostile designations” have not received Denver City Council approval. “Hostile” is when the application is submitted by a person or entity that is not the owner, without consent of the owner.

The lot is more than 33,000 square feet, located in an Urban-Single Unit-C zone with a 5,500 square foot minimum lot size. In this zone district, lots must be a minimum of 50 feet wide by 110 feet long. The allowed use is single-family residence.

The lot at 1980 Albion could be subdivided under the current zoning into four lots, without requiring any zoning variance or a zoning map amendment. That means that in the future, there could be four new homes where The Hut now stands.

Bernadette Kelly is the zoning chair of Greater Park Hill Community, Inc. She culled historical information from several sources, including the book,  There Will Be Dancing: The History of the Johnson Family, by Susan E Keats, the Denver Community Planning and Development Memo Report of Findings for Certificate of Non-Historic Status’ dated Oct. 25, 2018; and via Ancestry.com.


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