Magazine Feature

Nifty homes, DU observatory make tour more than just a walk in UPark

Nosy neighbors may want to put May 3 on their calendars.

For six hours on that Sunday afternoon, the University Park welcome mat will be laid out for looky-lous and house-hounds of all stripes.

The occasion is the annual University Park home tour, which this year offers access to five elegant homes plus DU’s newly renovated Chamberlin Observatory. All to benefit University Park Elementary.

Properties on this year’s tour reflect a variety of styles. They range from a renovated 1922 brick bungalow with a 1,000-square-foot addition to a $1.8 million, six-bed, nine-bath Contemporary Modern home with five fireplaces, an elevator, wine cellar, gallery, and a dog room with shower.

The Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Contemporary Modern sits on just over a half acre and cleverly blends metal, wood and stainless steel in 5,751 square feet plus a 2,684-square-foot finished basement.

Tour-goers craving green features may enjoy the “Urban Transitional” entry. This three-bed, four-and-a-half-bath home boasts a geothermal heating and cooling system and enough green elements to earn LEED certification when the renovation was completed in 2007–08.

The remaining homes on the tour are a three-bed, four-bath New Victorian designed around five mature elm trees more than 60 years old, and a $1.2 million, four-bed, four-bath Contemporary Victorian with a wraparound porch, backyard sports court and copper bar in the basement.

These properties serve as warm-up to DU’s Chamberlin Observatory, where some $400,000 worth of improvements have updated the structure and preserved its historic qualities, says DU project manager Linda Lautenbach.

The windows were painstakingly restored and the sashes and frames rebuilt, the hardwood floors carefully redone and the interior painted in a “historically appropriate” color scheme.

Less obvious improvements include restored doors and masonry, energy efficient lighting, buried electrical lines and a fire detection system.

The work was done in conjunction with funds from the Colorado Historical Society in addition to money from DU.

The May 3 home tour will begin at University Park Elementary, where students will be selling baked goods and teachers and parents will be revving up vehicles for tour-goers who don’t want to walk from house to house. Even UPark principal Dana Williams will be a shuttle driver.

Proceeds from the home tour will go to the school PTA, which will include the money in a $65,000 grant it plans to award the elementary. That money helps support a physical education instructor and classroom paraprofessionals, Williams says. It also helps offset budget cuts imposed by Denver Public Schools due to anticipated revenue declines.

“We’ll be getting half of the PE teacher and making some smaller class sizes for next year with that money,” Williams notes.

Last year, the home tour raised $27,000. The remaining grant funds are generated by other programs, which include gift card sales for Safeway, King Soopers and Sunflower Market.

Home tour hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $20 the day of the event. They can be purchased at the elementary school, 2300 S. Saint Paul St., or Lulu’s Furniture & Décor, 2553 S. Colorado Blvd. Grocery cards also are available at the school office.

For more information, call 303-550-0831 or go to

Comments are closed.