Bosler House faces foreclosure


  • Denver files a foreclosure action in an effort to save the Bosler House.
  • Saving the Bosler House in NW Denver started in 2009.
  • The Bosler House was declared a Denver historic home in 1984.
Denver is filing a foreclosure action and is seeking a receiver to restore the Bosler House.

Denver is filing a foreclosure action and is seeking a receiver to restore the Bosler House.

The city of Denver has filed an action to save the Bosler House in Northwest Denver by foreclosing on it.

The Bosler House is considered a gem of a historic house that has been badly blemished and damaged by being exposed to elements from holes in its roof since 2009.

The action to foreclose on the Bosler House at 3209 W. Fairview Place in West Highland, was applauded by historic preservationists and Councilwoman Susan Shepherd, who represents the district of the home.

“I am glad this has finally happened,” said Shepherd, who was defeated in her bid to be re-elected earlier this month and will leave office in July.

“It has been in the works for a long time,” Shepherd said.

The city also is seeking to have a receiver appointed that would manage and act as a caretaker for the Bosler House.

The Bosler House, built in 1875 and declared a Denver historic landmark in 1984, was an issue in Shepher’s bid to be re-elected.

She lost by a 2 to 1 margin to architect, Rafael Espinoza.

“I think a lot of people did not think the city was taking this seriously,” Shepherd said.

“We were taking it seriously and this action shows the city does take it seriously,” she said.

However, it is a private home and the legal process takes long time, she said.

Shepherd toured the Bosler House about three years ago, with its owner, Keith Painter.

“It was in pretty bad shape even then, especially on the top floor,” Shepherd said.

She said the roof had holes in it, allowing rain and snow to enter.

Espinoza also believes the city made the right move with the foreclosure action.

“It’s an important endgame move to save this structure, which I whole heartedly support in this specific case,” Espinoza said.

The Bosler House is an individually landmarked structure — one of only 332 in the city.

The Bosler House is significant not only for its Italianate architecture, but also for its history in the development of Denver, according to the city.

The Bosler House is associated with Ambrose Bosler and W.H. Yankee, two early settlers of West Highland. Bosler owned a successful ice-cutting business and Yankee had been a miner and a mine owner.

“The Bosler House is a highly visible landmark in the neighborhood,” according to a history of it prepared by Denver Historic Inc.

Another view of the Bosler House.

Another view of the Bosler House.

The Bosler House has an unusual and complex plan, compared to the single family Victorian homes in the surrounding neighborhood,” according to Historic Denver Inc.

It and the other individually landmarked buildings are considered irreplaceable, the city noted.

Annie Levinsky, executive director of Historic Denver Inc., has long fought to save, repair and restore the Bosler House.

“I hope we can get some immediate protection to protect the house from its current exposure to the elements,” Levinsky said.

Painter, who bought the home in 1987, which has 3,310 square feet according to records, has 21 days to respond to the city’s action for a foreclosure and to appoint a receiver.

The home has amassed $560,000 in liens. They result from fines of $999 per day from May 8, 2013, after the home was ruled as “neglected and derelict” by the city and Painter did not make the needed repairs.

Painter, on Wednesday said he has been unfairly portrayed as the bad guy in this long-running saga.

He said he has been involved in a “David and Goliath” battle with the city of Denver, Historic Denver Inc. and a handful of neighborhood activists.

Painter, who lives across the street from the Bosler House, claims that he could not get building permits to repair the building and it would cost more than $2 million to repair it. He said supporting walls in the home are failing and could not support a new roof.

Andrea Burns, spokeswoman for the Denver Community Planning and Development department said that is not true.

The city would have gladly provided him permits to complete the appropriate and needed repairs, she said.

At one point, Painter wanted to raze the home and replace the site with condos, she said. “That’s what people say,” Painter said.

Rather, what he wanted to do was tear down the house and replace it with a duplex, using as much of the recycled material from the Bosler House as possible.

Burns said that does not reflect what he filed with the city.

Last fall, the Colorado State Historical Fund provided a $7,600 grant to fund a structural assessment of the Bosler House.

However, details of how the assessment should proceed were not finalized until last April, according to Burns

Historic Denver Inc., in its application for the structural assessment grant from the state, made the point that a building such as the Bosler House needs to be saved.

“Today, the entire Highlands area is facing intense development pressure,” according to Historic Denver Inc.

“Large tracts of smaller single family homes are quickly being demolished to make way for multifamily condominiums and apartment buildings. This steady erasure of the physical remnants of Highland’s history makes it even more important to protect those buildings which are already designated landmarks,” Historic Denver Inc. said in the grant application.

At times, the struggle has taken a surreal twist.

Painter said that a city attorney last month said he tried to enter a meeting room in the Wellington E. Webb Municipal building downtown with a trombone case full of weapons, and city officials apparently felt threatened by him.

“I don’t even play the trombone,” Painter said.

He also questioned why if he had tried to enter the Webb building with weapons, why wasn’t he arrested?

When he made the complaint to Brad Buchanan, executive director of Community Planning and Development last month, the CPD responded that it could find no documentation to back up his charge.

The foreclosure action was only filed after Painter refused to give a contractor and a city representative the required access to the home, to assess the structural damage and do any needed emergency repairs, according to Burns.

“That is a lie,” Painter said.

However, that may be a question of interpretation.

The city sent him an agreement to assess the damage and to do emergency repairs, which he did not sign.

Painter contends repairs and the assessment are separate issues. Also, the city said Painter would not be allowed to be present during the assessment. Painter indicated it was outrageous that he would not be allowed to be in his own home. He also said he was not going to allow the city “carte blanche” to do any repairs it wanted, especially since  the structural integrity of the home had not yet been assessed.

Not only should he not be barred from being in his own home, but Painter said if he was present during the assessment, he could point out structural problems.

Burns said that is her understanding that a court could approve a receiver even before the foreclosure.

In that case, the receiver could start making some repairs quickly, she said.

“Our goal is to save this house,” Burns said.

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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