“The Astor House will be the handsomest, as well as the most substantial, hotel built in Colorado.”

Golden Transcript, 1867

To celebrate a grand re-opening in 1881 (above), owner Seth Lake hired Fred Sears to plant several sticks of dynamite across the street. The explosion destroyed original doors and windows, as well as blowing out every window in nearby Judge De France’s building.

The Astor House was constructed of stacked sandstone from a local quarry atop a river rock foundation and on a former creek bed. Intended as boarding for visiting lawmakers - Golden City was Colorado’s territorial capitol from 1862-1867 - construction was completed in 1867 just as the capitol moved to nearby Denver. Still, the building served as a hotel and boarding house continuously for 100 years -- through (at least) three fires, multiple additions and outbuildings, and several changes in name and ownership.

By 1972, the Astor House was vacant and slated for demolition. Community members formed the Golden Landmarks Association, lobbied the City of Golden to purchase the historic building, and saved it from being replaced with a parking lot.

The Astor House saw new life as an historic house museum, hosting teas and tours, visits with Santa, and ghost stories...

... until 2015, when the City of Golden embarked on a costly abatement and stabilization effort to straighten the slanted floors.

The Dining Room, prepped (above) and post (below) abatement. Removing the asbestos-containing-wallpaper stripped the building down to its studs, exposing original horse-hair plaster in the process. Ida Goetz, proprieter from 1894-1926, is rumored to have installed Golden’s first bathtub (pink, above) and charging 25 cents per soak.

The sagging framing was raised with jacks and strengthened with sisters. Steel beams were threaded through the 18” thick stone walls to stabilize the failing building.

Between the essential structural updates and extensive asbestos abatement, the City determined that the Astor House was due for a new community use. Foothills Art Center and AB Studio were ultimately awarded the opportunity to breathe new life into the vacant Astor House.

AB designed a modest addition with unanimous support from the City’s Historic Preservation Board and Planning Commission, and in compliance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historic Rehabilitation.

The dining room and parlor will become art galleries; the kitchen a children’s hands-on gallery; bedrooms remodelled as spaces for reading and working.

The Yard is transforming from a blighted and overgrown lot into a lush pocket park in the heart of downtown Golden, with built-in seating for art classes, a stage for performances, and a lawn for play and rest.

Accessible and sustainable upgrades ensure that the Astor House will continue to welcome visitors to Golden, matching the building’s original 1867 mission as a community gathering space. 


A Small Architecture Studio with Big Architecture Energy

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