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Historic Home Styles in Colorado Springs

Posted by Sarah Steen on July 12, 2021
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image of historic home with "Historic Homes Styles" caption

Many of our clients hope to purchase a historic home in Colorado Springs. These 100+ year old homes offer distinct character and charm and are situated in established neighborhoods with mature landscaping and trees. There are 3 main areas in El Paso County where you can find historic homes:

General William Palmer came to the Colorado Springs area and founded Manitou Springs, Old Colorado City and Colorado Springs. Palmer was a very wealthy philanthropist and he footed the bill for all the infrastructure in the area, established Colorado College, donated land to establish many of our parks, and founded the School for the Deaf and Blind, a tuberculosis sanatorium and many libraries. He was a true visionary with the money to turn his plans into reality. Two years after founding Colorado College, Colorado Springs had already grown to 1500 residents. Colorado Springs was an ideal location for such an undertaking with its close proximity to many recreational opportunities for tourism. Higher education was established with Colorado College, but commerce and trade were also launched for all the miners who were hoping to strike it rich. Old Colorado City became the last stop to stock up on supplies before heading into the mountains to search for gold.

Click here to download the Colorado Springs Neighborhood Guide

Manitou Springs Home Styles

Manitou Springs was initially established as a health resort and this is reflected in the unique structure of the historic buildings. Manitou features more commercial buildings than you might see in the Old North End of Colorado Springs. These include inns and hotels, store fronts and restaurants.

  • Queen Anne Homes
    In Manitou Springs you will find expensive Victorian homes with ornate British flair, turrets and asymmetric features. The Victorian homes accommodated members of the early high society who were searching for reprieve from the tuberculosis outbreak on the east coast during that time. Queen Anne Style was particularly popular during the 1870’s through 1910 and it shows in the Manitou Springs architecture. The large, resort style Queen Anne homes were not meant for residential use, but to be used as hotels, like The Cliffhouse and Nolan House. There are also still plenty of Queen Anne cottages in Manitou. The cottages were essentially replicas of their larger, Victorian counterparts.
  • Summer Cottages
    After the automobile became more popular, season-long visitors became less frequent in the Colorado Springs area. Summer cottages were built to accommodate short term visitors. These cottages were simple but comfortable and builders started expanding their efforts to the mountainsides of Manitou Springs. Here you are likely to encounter the more rustic style cabins of the less wealthy residents who lived there in the early 1900s.
  • Note: Many Manitou Springs homes were challenging to build with their location on the mountainside. It was difficult to build a home that would remain structurally stable and this is something to keep in mind when house hunting in the area.
  • Design guidelines for Manitou Springs

Related Reading: Buying a Century Home in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs’ Old North End Home Styles 

The architectural styles of historic homes in the Old North End were mainly influenced by its location close to Colorado College. The college attracted affluent residents from the east coast during the late 1860s to 1900. They would transplant their lifestyles (sometimes quite extravagant) to the newly established town in the wild west. Throughout the years, new Colorado Springs residents brought their own preferences with them and that can be seen in the mix of styles throughout historic areas. Many were built from the late 1800s through 1940 and the styles popular during various time periods often overlapped each other.

graphic image of Old North End in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Source: https://oldnorthend.org/neighborhood-maps

  • Victorian Styles – Mansions
    Large Victorian homes sprang up around Colorado College to meet the needs of the wealthy new residents. As time progressed, new styles were introduced: Queen Anne (probably the most ornate version of the Victorian styles), Gothic Revival, Romanesque Revival and many others. You will find many of these in the Old North End but they can also be found in Manitou Springs. At the end of the 19th century rich miners started building equally elaborate houses and Wood Avenue became known as “Millionaires Row”.
  • Craftsman Style – Bungalows
    As Victorian architectural style waned and the city expanded, the Craftsman style emerged as a result of the Arts and Crafts movement from 1900 through the early 1930s. Considering that the period style’s popularity only lasted about 30 years, it left a big impression on the older neighborhoods in town. You can find Craftsman style in two story homes as well as the popular bungalow styles. Bungalows are one to one and a half levels. The large front porches with heavy columns and eaves are some of the more iconic features of this style.
  • Tudor Styles
    Revival Tudors were popular in the 1910s and 1920s and are usually identified by their very dominant ornate half timbering. Tudors are almost exclusively found in the central part of Colorado Springs. There was a new wave of Tudor-like styles in the 1970’s but it has not returned since then.
  • Mission Styles
    Mission Style homes were built in the late 19th century through the 1930s. Their inspiration was taken from the California Mission Style that was built in California between 1769 and 1823 with a modest, less ornamental style. This is also the reason that Mission Style homes are referred to as Mission Revival Style. Colorado Springs doesn’t have many Mission Style homes, but you will see them occasionally in the Old North End.
  • Mediterranean Revival
    Early stucco homes are generally Mission Revival Style or Mediterranean Revival. The exteriors look just like their Mission cousins. They are generally simple and clean with low pitched roofs and beautifully arcaded entrances or porches. These homes often have tile flooring.
  • American Four Square Homes
    From 1900 to the mid 1930s, various versions of the American Four Square Home were built. Their minimal decoration was a direct answer to the heavy detail on Victorian homes, and an expression of the developing trend of simplicity. The American Four Square is a two-story home with a rectangular layout, a centered dormer, and a porch that extends across the front of the home. They were less expensive to build and the practical floor plan allowed for maximum interior square footage. This resulted in the most square feet for the dollar. Its simple and adaptable floorplan also made it a great option for the Sears Home Kits. American Four Square Homes could easily be adjusted with porch additions, interior décor edits, and various options for materials from wood, brick or cinder block. They could also incorporate other styles like classic cottage, bungalow, a Frank Lloyd Wright version, and prairie style. But the very basic style of the Four Square Home remained the same. There is a chance you have seen more American Four Square Homes than you realize.
  • Sears Home Kits
    After the turn of the century, less affluent homeowners would turn to Sears Home Kits when this famous catalog started them around 1908. Sears offered a wide variety of home options and sizes, but the most popular home kits were mostly of smaller in size. You can find many Sears Home Kit homes surrounding and stretching away from the Old North End. Focus your search on the Patty Jewett area if you are looking a Sears Home Kit home. This neighborhood is wedged between the Old North End and the Patty Jewett Golf Course. Patty Jewett has become highly desirable with its special charm and square footage prices go up to $400/sqft.
  • Click here for an extensive list of information and resources on how to help preserve the historic flair of this neighborhood and others with similar age around it.
  • Design Standards for the Old North End

Related Reading: Steps to Buy a Home

Old Colorado City

While Old Colorado City, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, were all built around the same time, but each of them had very distinct characteristics and purposes. Manitou Springs was developed as more of a health and spa type location, Colorado Springs was intended to be a playground (and location for high education) for the rich and famous, and Old Colorado City ended up with a more blue-collar flair. This is very clear in the bars and brothels that were established on the southside of Colorado Avenue. The north side of town had many smaller to very small homes in various Victorian styles.

  • Carpenter Gothic
    Carpenter Gothic style homes are simple and can be found all over Colorado. You can actually find this style all over the country and it was popular far into the mid-1900s. Carpenter Gothic homes are practical, less expensive and far less ornamental than the Victorian homes, but you will find “gingerbread style” exterior decoration on some. Other features are batten and board siding and steeply pitched roofs (which are very useful when faced with heavy snowfalls).

If you’re interested in learning more about historic homes in Colorado Springs or thinking about a home purchase, give us a call 719-219-9739 or email susanna@co-regroup.com.

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