Magazine Feature

University Park concrete house given landmark status

Holland House

The Holland House at 2340 S. Josephine St., was built for one of the founders of DU’s Graduate School of Social Work. Photo: Richard Chapman

An experimental concrete house in University Park built in 1932­–33 for a woman who helped create DU’s Graduate School of Social Work has been designated a landmark structure in the city of Denver.

The Denver City Council on Monday unanimously approved landmark status for Holland House at 2340 S. Josephine St. after the home’s owner for 43 years, Shirley Kenneally, asked for the designation. Kenneally asserted that the residence was built for a person of significance, Mary Holland, by an architect of significance, Eugene Groves, using a precast concrete system regarded as revolutionary at the time.

The entire building is pre-formed concrete,” Savannah Jameson of the Landmark Preservation Commission explained to the council. “(Groves’) goal was to create a home that was simple, low cost, durable, efficient and fireproof.”

The first of Groves’ four concrete residences was Holland House, built for $5,500 using the architect’s patented system of poured, cast and reinforced concrete for walls, floors, ceiling — even kitchen cabinets, salt and pepper nooks, tables and a “health sleeping unit.” The sleeping nook accommodates a twin-size bed, has an operable window and includes built-in book shelves and two pocket doors that slide out of the walls to close it off.

“It’s like living in an experimental sculpture,” says Alice Gilbertson of Historic Denver.

The single-story concrete home has three bedrooms and two baths in 1,667 square feet on four lots. It boasts a stylish concrete dome over the living room and a rooftop deck. A single-story bedroom addition was added in 1995 and the garage was rebuilt in 2007.

Groves was a Harvard-educated architect/builder whose tuberculosis brought him to Denver in the early 20th century, according to the designation application. He did extensive design and construction work for Colorado State University, built the Akron Gymnasium in Washington County for the Public Works Administration during the Depression, and in 1937 designed the art deco style Johnson’s corner gas station in Longmont. Six of his buildings are on the National Register and seven are on the state register. Groves died in 1967.

Holland was a teacher from Michigan who came to Denver in 1911 and worked extensively with underprivileged children, tuberculosis patients and the Red Cross.

“She did so much to advance child welfare in our community,” Gilbertson said Monday.

From 1923–46, Holland ran the Colorado Children’s Aid Society, and in 1931 was part of a coalition of social service advocates who created DU’s Department of Allied Social Services. Two years later that unit became DU’s Department of Social Work and in 1942 the Graduate School of Social Work, which it is today.

Designation as a landmark structure prevents the Holland House from being razed or having its exterior altered without Landmark Commission approval. For more information, visit

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