In Denver’s City Park West neighborhood, it’s tough to miss the Wilbur Raymond House. Built by noted local architect William A. Lang for an investment banker in 1890, the imposing stone home showcases the strong eclecticism associated with Lang’s work. Architectural details include exterior walls built with locally sourced rusticated stone, round arches, asymmetrical massing, elaborate cornices, a steeply pitched roof, and a five-sided corner bay.
With almost 6,500 square feet, the quirky eight-bedroom and nine-and-a-half-bath house sits on a parcel of about one-fifth of an acre, along with a separate carriage house. The property is available through Jenny Usaj at Usaj Realty for $5 million.
Lang was active in Denver from 1885 to 1893, and a number of his surviving buildings are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places; they’re noted for his use of turrets, gargoyles, columns, and multicolor stone. Alas, his business collapsed during the Panic of 1893. He moved to Illinois in 1897, where medical records describe him as suffering from severe depression and as manic depressive. He was hit and killed by a train that year.
The house became known as The Marne during the ownership of the Edwin Van Cise family, from 1918 to 1938. In 1920, Van Cise added a wing and divided the house into apartments; it was later used as offices. The building eventually became vacant and boarded up until it opened as a bed and breakfast in 1989. Now a single family home again, the building could be converted back to commercial use as an event center, wedding venue, or AirBnb.
For all its many lives, the interiors are in remarkably good shape, particularly the woodwork. From the numerous fireplace mantles to the wainscoting to the ornate sweeping multi-level staircase, all display the fine craftsmanship and detail of yesteryear. Other vintage touches include the surviving stained glass and the hardwood floors.
The main floor includes several sitting rooms, a huge dining room, oversized windows, and soaring ceilings. The home’s two kitchens and numerous remodeled bathrooms show that the house has been thoroughly updated to marry modern conveniences with vintage charm.
The sellers embraced Lang’s idiosyncratic architecture and added their own unique decorative touches that include stacks of vintage suitcases as stand-ins for end tables, a somewhat puzzling penchant for soda advertising, and a covered clawfoot bath tub painted turquoise that serves as a coffee table in one of the sitting rooms. That’s a bold look, as the kids say, but historic photos show the house has always bent towards flamboyant. Asymmetrically swagged brocade curtains once festooned the windows and floral stenciling swooped across the ceilings of at least a couple rooms.
Compact yards are pretty standard in city neighborhoods, and this one is no exception. It nevertheless manages to include mature and pretty flowering plants, cozy patios, private balconies and, best of all, a porch complete with swing.
This one is ready for its next owner, preferably one with a taste for the unusual.