You will find Chautauqua Park at the foot of the Flatirons Mountains, the result of a bond issue in 1898 to purchase a total of 80 acres, which formed the park’s origin. Around Chautauqua, you will find amazing architecture built by Boulder architecture firms. This area is on the south and east edge of the City of Boulder, Colorado.
Today the park offers many activities for public enjoyment; there are hiking trails of all levels. After a hike, enjoy a meal at the Chautauqua Dining Hall, then relax outside, dining on an expansive veranda overlooking the mountains.
The Chautauqua Auditorium presents various music shows and the yearly Colorado Music Festival. If this entertainment is not to your taste, picnic on the vast green or take a self-guided tour using your cell phone. The tour consists of four interpretive panels along nine stops.
Where are the Flatirons?
The Flatirons are a unique mountain range with a triangular base rising to a pointed peak — one theory is that they resemble old irons from the pioneer days.
Chautauqua Park sits at the foot of five flatiron mountains with rather uninspired names: they are named “one” to “five” from east to west. Other flatirons are in another part of the range; however, when people talk about “the Flatirons,” they generally mean the five-numbered ones. These numbered Flatirons are on the east slope of Green Mountain.
History, Wealth, and Location-Influenced Architecture
Boulder, Colorado, grew significantly around the turn of the twentieth century. Gold and silver mines drew people from all over the United States, and the city created the Mapleton neighborhood to meet this increased housing need.
The entire area was a dry, barren, uninviting space, so the developers planted 200 Cottonwood and Silver Maple trees to make it more inviting. Construction was rapid, with 57% of the 500 homes completed before 1910.
1. Victorian Style
Most of the affluent homes in early Mapleton were Victorian in style, with expansive lawns and large wrap-around porches. Very ornate woodwork and fancy stained glass adorned the homes. These houses were generally in southern Mapleton, as the “working class” population built smaller, less elaborate structures in the northern areas.
Many of the homes still exist today. They cost over a million dollars but come with historical value tax breaks and preservation grant money to ensure the old houses remain in perfect condition.
2. The New England Farmhouse
The oldest house in Denver has an interesting backstory. Frederick A. Squires and Jonathan A. Tourtellot married twin sisters, and they built and occupied the Squires-Tourtellot House in 1865. Together, the two families ran a general store and rented rooms in the large house.
The architectural style is New England Farmhouse design with a front facade with two and a half floors and gabled windows. The original owners made the house of locally sourced fieldstone. Later, they expanded it with wood.
3. The A-frame
The history of A-frame construction begins in Asia, Polynesia, and parts of Europe. They were often called “roof huts.” The A-Frame style was not used as a primary residence but was for peasant workers, storage areas, and outdoor cooking and activity. Modern popularization in the United States started in 1950 in California.
The popularity of the A-Frame spread quickly. Soon there were mail-order kits. All the wood and hardware came with instructions to your location for an affordable price. The sloping roof from foundation to peak was beneficial during the winter snows around Chautauqua Park.
Between 1950 to 1960, Denver grew 19% from 415,786 to 493,887 residents. The influx needed affordable housing, and the modern style A-Frame met the new aesthetic in the age of Aquarius. The simple open construction left multiple adaptation options to fit size, budget, and tastes. There are many A-Frame houses around Chautauqua Park, both in the woods, on mountainsides, and in Boulder neighborhoods.
4. The American Bungalow
A similar roofing concept adapted from an Indian (East, not American) design came to be known as the “American Bungalow.” Like the A-Frame, the American Bungalow was a simply constructed one or one-and-a-half floor plan. The roof is pitched, providing the same snow load distribution but less dramatically pitched than the A-Frame. The eaves generally overhang the porch but do not extend close to the ground level.
5. Modern Mountain Architecture
Modern Mountain Architecture combines the pioneering aesthetic of the log cabin with some spectacular upgrades. The primary emphasis in log cabin architecture is nature. Not just the view but the use of trees that interlock, making the walls incorporate nature as a physical component of the dwelling.
The logs used in construction are not nailed or screwed together as the timber settles and alters shape over time. Chinking, a pliant mortar, is used to seal the walls instead. Many houses carry the rustic ambiance inside with exposed wood. Some choose a more modern interior.
6. Turn of the Century Modern
This style enjoyed rich popularity for two decades. Large glass windows opened up the open-plan interiors, and sun and outside views flooded the interiors. The heightened ceilings, minimalistic design, and glass and silver motifs are just as popular today.
7. Ranch Style
Ranch-style homes came into vogue during the 1960s and 1970s. You can quickly identify split ranch architecture by the foundation and lower floor building partially into the ground level, which leaves the windows short or submerged in wells. A raised ranch design is very similar, and the styles are often confused. However, a properly raised ranch house has only two floors, and a split level will have three or more levels.
8. “Eclectic” Style
You can see many different architectural styles in the Boulder area. Just as many newer homes combine elements of several design types that create an “eclectic” look, which describes many of the types of houses you’ll find near Chautauqua Park.
Incorporating nature into the home designs is the one theme that brings it all together. The homogenized collection of different architectural styles creates its own “Boulder look.” Whether the underlying style is a Victorian, log cabin, A-Frame, ranch, bungalow, or modern, each motif maximizes the raw beauty of the Chautauqua Park environment.