DENVER -- Steve and Jan Davis are breathing new life into the historic Bosler House at Grove St. and W. Fairview Place in the Highlands.
After purchasing the rundown home, which had been left open to the elements for six years, the Davis’s have replaced the roof, rotted floor and ceiling joists and the stairs.
The house is now weatherproof.
“The hardest part was to replace all the structure that was up in the ceiling,” Steve Davis said. “Down in the basement, about 25 percent of the structure had to be replaced. Up here, on the main floor, maybe 15 to 20 percent. And on the upper floors, 100 percent.”
He said it was painstaking work.
Jan Davis said the old roof was so weak, it couldn’t be used as a brace to haul up new material.
“Every beam, every piece of wood came up through the house, up through the stairwell, carried by hand,” she said.
There’s a hatch on top of the roof, which work crews accessed to put the finishing touches on new chimneys.
Steve Davis said only one chimney will actually be functional, for use with a fireplace. The others are for show, to comply with the historical aspect of the exterior of the home.
Inside the house, the walls have fresh drywall.
The Bosler House was built in 1875 by Ambrose Bosler, one of the founders of the original town of Highlands.
The Italianate style structure was later sold to William Yankee, a Civil War veteran and mine owner.
The third owner, Dr. John Tilden, incorporated the home into the surrounding Colonial Revival buildings, as part of a Sanitarium.
It was designated a Historic Landmark in 1984 and was purchased by Keith Painter in 1987.
City officials said Painter “popped” the top in 2008, and began changing the roof line.
After the city issued a “stop work” order, Painter declined to return the roof to its earlier condition. It sat open to wind, snow and rain for six years.
The Davis’s purchased the house in April, for $375,000.
Mr. Davis, a licensed contractor, and Mrs. Davis, a master gardener are doing some of the restoration work themselves.
Jan Davis said the kitchen, which was originally in the back of the house, will be moved toward the front.
“We’re moving it… so we can look out over the park,” she said. “It’s going to be amazing… the sight is spectacular.”
Mrs. Davis pointed out where the two islands will be located in the kitchen, where the appliances will go and the walk-in pantry, with room for a desk.
“This is the elevator shaft,” she said, pointing to an enclosed area near the pantry. “The elevator will go from the basement to the attic, because there are a lot of steps with these 12 foot ceilings.”
She also pointed out the dining room and living room on the southwest side of the house.
“We’ve found some beautiful, antique chandeliers and fun things like that,” she told Denver7.
Steve Davis said flooring is the next step.
"Hardwood floors and tile,” he said.
Last April, when the couple gave Denver7 a tour, Steve Davis grabbed ahold of the banister, to demonstrate how wobbly it had become with age.
“We recreated the stairs exactly like they were,” he said. “We saved the railing. It’s in the basement and we are on a mission to rebuild it like it was.” Davis said the city informed him, that the new railing will have to be a little taller than the original.
“Maybe people were shorter back in the day,” he chuckled, “or they changed the code. I don’t know.”
Upstairs, on the second floor, Jan Davis pointed out where the Master Bedroom will be located.
She said the historic (wooden) windows, which are being funded through a grant, won’t be here until spring.
She said, outside, the porches will be rebuilt and will include ornate iron work.
Tom Dunn, an iron expert, went looking around and found a piece of iron trim that fits the bill, at Eron Johnson antiques.
Jan Davis was stunned when she saw the iron trim. She believes it was part of the original Bosler House.
“You can see paint splatters, sort of a creamy yellow color and bluish gray, on this part of the trim,” she said, “They match paint splatters on the rest of the house.”
Mrs. Davis said the original iron trim was designed to “impress.”
“Everything was meant to say, ‘I’ve made it. I’m the big man,’” she said. “That’s not how we feel (about ourselves,) but it is the house. That’s what it is.”
Steve Davis said a lot of work went into the wood trim around the top of the house.
“The corbels that were built, were excruciating to get done,” he said. “Half were built by a local contractor, the other half were done by sailing friends, who did an excellent job.”
Steve Davis said there is still work to be done on the limestone flints, keystones and sills, which are the ornate stone trims around the windows.
“The old, grand lady is coming back,” he said.
The Davis’s said they will build a new sidewalk and formal garden outside the house.
They considered an iron trim fence, but changed their mind because of cost.
“We did get an estimate for putting iron all the way around,” Mrs. Davis said. “It was $30,000. So, we’re thinking a hedge is in our future. If we hit the lottery, we’ll put the fence up, but for now, it’s going to be a hedge.”
Public Tour to benefit Skinner Middle School
The couple told Denver7 they hope to be in their restored home by Thanksgiving. Christmas at the latest.
Before they move in, they will have an Open House as part of the Jewels of Highlands Tour.
The tour, presented by Nostalgic Homes, will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. October 1 and will benefit Skinner Middle School.
Here’s a link to the Tour’s homepage:
City officials said they are pleased with what Steve and Jan Davis have done so far and with what they plan to do.
“I think Jan said it best,” said Denver Community Planning and Development spokeswoman Andrea Burns. “She said, ‘We’re trying to do what’s best for the house and still make it our house.’ That’s what landmark preservation home ownership is all about.”
Burns called the project a “win-win” for everybody.
“I think they’ve taken on an epic project and it’s going to have an epic outcome,” Burns said. “This is not just a home, it’s also a cornerstone of this community. There are going to be new memories here and new histories here, so it’s really the best of both worlds.”