Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Home tour to put historic properties on center stage

The Neusteter Mansion will be featured in the 2010 edition of the University Park Home Tour.

If you think “Georgian Revival” means Southern spiritualists in a roadside tent, May 2 is a great time to get your mind right.

On that day, you can learn that Georgian Revival is one of a number of architectural styles represented by homes on this year’s University Park Home Tour. In fact, for the price of a tour ticket, you can not only marvel at the homes’ exteriors, you can go inside and poke around. Toe-tap your way through a Craftsman Bungalow perhaps, or grab a glance at a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Prairie-style home with eight bathrooms.

If that isn’t enough, you can sneak a peak at DU’s Chamberlin Obervatory, whose 20-inch refracting telescope is a 116-year-old monument to touching the stars.

The observatory and five participating homes nearby comprise this year’s home tour, an annual event benefiting University Park Elementary at 2300 S. St. Paul St.

“This is the biggest fundraiser of the year,” says chairwoman Kathleen Williams. “It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun.”

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the tour. For that, you get to explore participating homes from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and wander over to University Park elementary to bid on student-made crafts at the silent art auction. Or sample mom-certified lunches and baked goods. Maybe even buy books at the Scholastic Book Sale. All at your own pace.

Local auto dealers have donated cars for patrons to get around in, but the tour is principally a walking or biking excursion, Williams says. It’s also for examining pieces of the architectural history of University Park. One of these notable pieces is the former Neusteter mansion, a Georgian Revival property formerly owned by Myron and Shirley Neusteter, whose grand department store cut an important swath on downtown Denver’s 16th Street for decades.

Neusteter’s Department Store — designed by Fisher and Fisher and formerly containing a lobby mural painted by DU art luminary Vance Kirkland — opened in 1924 and closed in 1985. Two years later, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places and in the 1990s it was converted to condos.

The couple’s attention to elegance and detail helped make their store famous and the family’s University Park home notable. Their red brick home, built in 1942–43 and expanded in 1953, reflects the Georgian Revival style named for designs popular during the reigns of Kings George I–IV of England in the 18th and 19th centuries. Also known as Colonial Revival, the style reflects architectural aspects such as a centered, paneled front door with a decorated crown and symmetrical flanking windows containing multiple small panes.

The Neusteters purchased the property for their home from Humphrey Owen (BA ’14; MA ’15), professor emeritus of biological sciences at DU and a faculty member for 24 years. During World War I, Owen served as a pilot in the Army Signal Corps. He became an associate professor at DU in 1925 and head of the zoology department a decade later. He retired from DU in 1946 and died in 1962.

Another notable house on the home tour is a two-story, 4,371-square-foot Prairie-style property with four bedrooms, eight bathrooms and five fireplaces. The home was purchased and renovated in 2007 and is true to the prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright, whose design emphasized low horizontal lines and open space to blend with the flat prairie landscape.

The tour also offers two bungalows, one a 100-year-old Craftsman style reflective of the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 1880s. The Clayton Street home has been extensively renovated to reflect modern, energy-efficient amenities while still reflecting the home’s original early 20th Century charm.

For information on the home tour, go to or call University Park Elementary at 303-756-9407.

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