You may not know the name William Lang, but chances are you’ve seen his work around town. After all, the renowned architect—once a favorite among the local elite—was one of Denver’s most prolific during the 1880s and 1890s, churning out more than 250 structures. The Molly Brown House at 1340 Pennsylvania is his creation, as is St. Mark’s Parish at 12th and Broadway. But it’s a lesser-known building that’s enjoying the spotlight now.
1272 Columbine, also known as the Stahl House, is an early example of Lang’s signature style, which merged classic elements of the Queen Anne architecture with Richardsonian Romanesque details. At first glance, you’ll likely notice some of the design elements typical of the former: asymmetry, steeply pitched rooflines with cross- and nested gables, and ornately detailed and shingled gable ends. Look again, though, and you’ll see what makes this house a Lang: a large, arched window crowned by a heavy stone arch—a detail typical of the Richardsonian Romanesque style.
The home’s embodiment of an architectural style and impressive pedigree are just two reasons why it achieved landmark status, a designation, bestowed by Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission that requires the fulfillment of several more criteria, including historic context, age (a structure must be more than 30 years old, or of exceptional importance), and integrity.
Built in 1889, the 132-year-old Stahl House was among the first erected in the Rohlfing subdivision, in what is now Congress Park, and is one of the neighborhood’s earliest examples of the Queen Anne style so popular before the Silver Crash of 1893. Though the western-most blocks of Congress Park contain other examples of Queen Anne design, including other structures by Lang, 1272 Columbine retains the best integrity, measured by the qualities of location, setting, design, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. The structure remains in its original location, and though the single-family home was divided into a two-unit dwelling in 1986, the alterations didn’t impact Lang’s design or the original workmanship and materials.
Also helping this home’s case was its influential original owner, John Seward Stahl. After moving to Denver in 1884, Stahl started a new business selling typewriters. By the end of the decade, he had become so well-known that “the type-writer man’s” purchase of the building site at 1272 Columbine Street was covered in local newspapers. The house remained in the Stahl family until 1943, when it was sold by the widow of George Stahl—the son of John S. Stahl.
Following a unanimous vote by the Denver City Council, the structure became the Mile High City’s 351st local landmark in early January. But to anyone who has made a special trip up this block of Columbine just to take in its charming, colorful façade, that designation is a mere formality.
To learn more about Denver’s landmark designation process, go to denvergov.org/landmark.