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As Denver's Wash Park neighborhood is changing, some fear too much history is being lost

Some fear too many old homes are being torn down
Posted at 3:26 PM, May 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-16 21:03:55-04

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DENVER -- The construction noise is almost constant in Denver's Washington Park neighborhood but what's happened there is not uncommon throughout the city. Across Denver, old homes are being torn down to make room for new and often much larger houses.

Denver7 decided to take a 360 look at the changing neighborhood in Wash Park after a viewer sent an email saying she felt like the minority and was concerned about middle class families being pushed out by multi-million dollar homes.

There's no better example of what is happening in Wash Park than a 116-year-old house located a few blocks east of the park. The owner, a retired school teacher, purchased it for $30,000 in the 1970s and she was recently offered $750,000 for it. She told the man to get off her front porch.

Residents who have called the neighborhood home for decades are worried about just how much Wash Park is changing and the history that is being lost as old homes are torn down. What some see as destruction, others call progress.

"And I think the character of the neighborhood is not just the homes, it’s the people. So if you don’t have a vibrant people moving in and out and new families coming in, I think the neighborhood sort of stagnates," said Tim McHugh, a Wash Park resident. 

McHugh lives in one of the last two bungalows on his block but he doesn't mind the construction. He's pretty sure if he ever sells the house it will likely be demolished.

"I think that that’s the way life is, change," said McHugh.

When Tracey and Brad Gifford bought an old home three blocks from the park, they looked into the possibility of adding to the structure but a structural engineer and architect advised against it. They ended up tearing down the house with the intent of building one that would seamlessly fit in the neighborhood.

"We had to make sure that it had flagstone on the porches like a lot of the old houses, that the columns were out of the same type of wood that would’ve been used," said Brad Gifford.

Their Craftsman-style house took longer to design and build but they're extremely happy with how it turned out. The couple even incorporated pieces from the original house into the design, including old windows that were made into a desk.

"So when we made the decision to do this we said, 'let’s make every effort that we can to make this something that the neighbors will like, that everybody in the neighborhood will like,'" said Tracey Gifford.