Denver acts to save historic Bosler House

Posted at 1:29 PM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 10:09:02-05

The city of Denver is taking action to save the historic Bosler House, which has a roof that has been open to the elements since 2009.

This week, a court-appointed receiver will move to sell the structure at 3209 W. Fairview Place, in lieu of foreclosure.

Denver began foreclosure proceedings on the house in May of 2015, after the owner, Keith Painter, accumulated $560,000 in fines. 

Painter had been granted permits to do some roof and siding work on the historic structure, but the city said the work he was doing exceeded the scope authorized by the permits.

"He had a permit to replace shingles," said Andrea Burns of the city's Community Planning and Development Office, "but he popped the top."

She said Painter started working on the roof without getting approval from Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission.

“Historic properties in Denver have a higher bar for preservation and maintenance,” she said.

The Bosler House, built in 1875 and designated a city landmark in 1984, was purchased by Painter in 1987.

When the city asked Painter to restore the original roof profile, he said he couldn’t without causing more damage.

Last summer, Painter told Denver7 that the temporary roof the city wanted him to install would have cost $90,000.

“It would have cost more than an arm and a leg,” he said, “it would have cost me the first born from each of my daughters, and something more, and that’s not acceptable.”

In a news release, Burns said that after the city issued a “stop-work” order, Painter declined to return the roof to its earlier condition, and instead proposed demolishing the historic building.

"Over the next six years, attempts to work with the owner to bring the property into compliance with city maintenance and historic preservation requirements were not successful," she said.

During that time the roof remained open, exposing the interior of the house to wind, rain and snow.

Painter told Denver7 that he offered to put a tarp on it, but the city rejected that request.

“We implored him to close the roof,” Burns said. “We’ve been desperate to get that roof closed. However, we certainly wanted it done in a proper way and that just wasn’t something that we could agree to.”

With the roof open, the plaster, drywall and wood floors all suffered extensive damage.

Last summer, the city began a historic structure assessment, funded by a grant from History Colorado, which concluded that unauthorized alterations over the last 20 years have left the house in fair to poor condition.

Despite serious damage, the assessment indicates the house can be restored by qualified engineers and historic preservation professionals.  But it will be costly.  The assessment estimates a $1.7 million price tag to restore the house.

"Our goal is to save this irreplaceable city landmark," said Barbara Stocklin-Steely, principal city planner for landmark preservation. "We are hopeful that a qualified buyer with resources and expertise can restore the Bosler House and make it a point of community pride once more.

When asked what happens if the house doesn’t sell right away, Burns told Denver 7, “We’re going to take this one step at a time.  If the house isn’t sold, it will stay in the possession of the court.”

Burns said the city is optimistic that someone will come forward.



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