Decking the halls at the Governor’s Residence
Denver and Boulder like to dress up their historic homes, museums and hotels this time of year, offering teas, guided tours and special events to the public. The teas are so popular that the major ones — Molly Brown House and Byers-Evans House — are already sold out, but you can still get tickets to tour historic homes.
The top site in Denver is not only free, it will be open eight times starting Dec. 8. The Governor’s Residence at the Boettcher Mansion, as it is formally known, at 400 E. Eighth Ave., turns into a decorator’s playground each fall. Members of the Colorado chapter of American Society of Interior Designers submit ideas for one of six rooms that will be on display and then a committee selects designers for the spaces.
This year the décor takes on a global view, with each of the designers drawing inspiration from Colorado’s sister cities and their holiday traditions. The theme is “Colorado’s Kith and Kin,” from the expression denoting friends and family. The idea of sister cities took off after World War II, intended to encourage peace, friendship and understanding between cultures that had been in conflict. More recently the partnerships have been used to create business alliances.
Nicole Bopp, executive director of the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund, finds the theme apropos, because while the Denver mansion is used for official functions and to greet Colorado guests, it also regularly hosts visitors from around the world.
“The collaboration with the sister cities is my favorite theme we’ve done for the holiday tours,” Bopp said while touring the residence earlier this week. “We have cranes made by schoolchildren in Japan and the Olympic torch that was in Rio,” she said. “The multiculturalism adds vibrancy,” she adds, and underscores the collection of European and Asian objects the Boettcher family included with the home when their foundation donated it to the state of Colorado in 1959.
While the ASID designers were busy working on their six rooms, Bopp and her staff used items from the Boettcher collection to decorate the 100-footlong center hallway. Antique framed maps, Asian porcelain and an ornate silver urn filled with holiday greenery are among the pieces further adding to the global feel of the mansion.
One of the most whimsical examples of town “twinning” on display is in the wood-paneled library, where Beaver Creek’s sister city Lech, Austria, was the inspiration. Decorated as the “Ski Club Arlberg Lounge,” after the ski club founded in 1901, the room’s accoutrements were borrowed from a variety of sources in Beaver Creek and Austria.
At the entrance of the cozy chic room is a wooden form dressed in Ski Club Arlberg lederhosen loaned by restaurateur Brian Nolan. In one corner is an 11-foot long alphorn owned by Helmut Fricker, a longtime Beaver Creek entertainer. The room’s Christmas tree is decorated with vintage ski poles and several of Fric-
Tour the mansion
ker’s Tyrolean hats. Beer steins, ornaments and ski memorabilia also decorate the space, which was designed by Carol Moore Mink, ASID Colorado chapter president, and David Rote, communications director.
“This was truly a collaborative project,” said Edwards-based designer Moore Mink, a former Vail ski instructor who has visited Lech, Austria, and is a member of Ski Club Arlberg. During Oktoberfest this fall, she met with officials from Beaver Creek resort as well as visitors from Lech to arrange for the loan of such items as an oversized cowbell the Dopplemayr Corp. gave Beaver Creek after installing the first chair lift Free holiday tours of The Governor’s Residence will be held main gate at 400 E. Eighth Ave. first come, first served basis. Reservations are not accepted; large groups are encouraged to give advance notice, though. Tours are self-paced and may last from 20 to 45 minutes. The 2016 commemorative holiday ornament will be on sale during the tour, with proceeds to benefit the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund. Other tour sponsors are American Society of Interior Designers and Colorado Homes & Lifestyles. coloradoshome.org; 303.837.8350, extension 4 in Beaver Creek in 1980.
Another designer gathering objects from near and far was Erica Deam, who decorated the bright, sunny Palm Room in tribute to Denver’s sister city, Takayama, Japan. Its high ceiling, white Colorado marble floor and columns are a perfect setting for a tall tree adorned with paper cranes, chopsticks and sarubobo doll ornaments.
Deam said the room’s inspiration was “nature, tradition and community.” Drawing on the similarity of Denver’s climate to that of the Japanese city, she used garlands, frosted pinecones, twinkling lights and scents of spruce and cedar. The color palette
of red, blue, gold and brown was taken from models of yatai, or parade floats used in festivals, that she borrowed from the Denver mayor’s office and a local resident.
“It was challenging because the Japanese don’t celebrate Christmas, so I played up the culture and things specific to Takayama,” said Deam, noting the finished room highlights “our collaboration, our diversity and our common appreciation for rich and thoughtful design.”
The project had special meaning for her because her sister and brother-in-law are stationed in Japan while serving in the Air Force. Deam said she worked with Denver Sister Cities, the Japanese consulate in Denver, the city of Takayama and the Japan-American Society of Southern Colorado to get her room ready.
Other spaces, designers and city pairings on the tour include: Drawing Room, designer Trish Bonney, Boulder’s sister city of Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Well Room, Annie Huston and Stephanie Tardiff of Birdsall & Co., Grand Junction’s sister city of El Espino, El Salvador; State Dining Room, Leslie Kazmierczak of Level10 Interiors, Pueblo’s sister city of Maribor, Slovenia; and Governor’s Room, Pam Smith and Colleen Heldt, Colorado Springs’ sister city of Olympia, Greece.
Bopp said she was so pleased with the results of this year’s decorating efforts that the preservation fund is thinking of continuing the theme next year. With Denver alone having 10 sister cities, the global scheme could become a holiday perennial. “View From The Library” is the eighth in a series of collectible ornaments inspired by an object in the Governor’s Residence at the Boettcher Mansion. This year’s ornament is designed after the leaded glass doors in the home’s library that frame a view of the Millennium Tree on the mansion’s grounds. The tree, planted to celebrate the turn of the century in 2000, was a seedling from a 65foot Blue Spruce growing in Pike National Forest that was later cut and transported by a nine-vehicle caravan to Washington D.C. to be lit on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the 2000 holiday season. The ornament is made of brass and hand-finished in 24-karat gold. All proceeds from the sale of the ornament, $30, go to the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund. Ornaments can be purchased during tours at the mansion, are sold at the Molly Brown House Museum gift shop, 1340 Pennsylvania St., and can be ordered online at coloradoshome.org/gift-shop.
Helmut Fricker with his Alpenhorn (Alpine Horn) in the Stately Library, decorated to honor Beaver Creek’s sister city, Lech, Austria. Wise men in the Grand Drawing Room (decorated by Trish Bonney) reflect Boulder’s sister city Dushanbe, Tajikistan, at the Governor’s Residence at the former Boettcher Mansion. This year’s theme is Colorado’s sister cities. Joe Amon, The
Jamie Heldt trims the tree in the Governor’s Room, which is decorated with inspiration from Colorado Springs sister city Olympia, Greece. The theme for the holiday decor at the Governor’s Residence this year is Colorado’s sister cities. Photos Below: Ornaments for reflecting Beaver Creek’s sister city Lech, Austria, in the library.
Designer Stephanie Tardiff of Birdsall & CO decorates the well in the Well Room.