One of Boulder’s most beautiful historic homes now available
The Temple-Bowron House, an exquisitely restored historic home on a large lot two blocks from Pearl Street in Boulder, presents an unrivaled opportunity to those who not only appreciate history but seek to abide in it.
Constructed for Edwin J. Temple, one of the first regents of the University of Colorado Boulder, the Temple-Bowron House was completed in 1882, much of it crafted by local artisans. A striking view of CU’s principal building, Old Main, is framed by the primary bedroom’s expansive windows, and from Temple-Bowron’s restored front porch to the original fireplaces, brass finishes and crystal fixtures, the home beautifully reflects a distinctive era in Colorado history. Located in the Whittier neighborhood, the Temple-Bowron House has been named a historic landmark as a single-family home by the City of Boulder’s Landmarks Board.
Kristin Lewis, founder of Kristin Lewis Architects and the architect who led the process to receive approval from the Landmarks Board, said, “As with many historic buildings in this timeframe, the house is unique. You can see the history in the building itself.”
The five-bedroom, five-bath restoration, wrapped up by 2020 when the current owner, Susan Dawson, and her family moved to Boulder ten years after her son’s graduation from CU Boulder, is evident from the first glimpse of the property. Following years of disrepair, in which the home was chopped into office and apartment spaces (with walls tacked up throughout the interior and heating ducts rammed through joists), the Dawsons made Temple-Bowron their “labor of love,” Dawson said. Pouring significantly more than their purchase price of the home into the restoration, Dawson enlisted general contractor Louis Pilkington, president of D. L. Pilkington Construction, to return Temple-Bowron to its former glory – “and maybe go beyond it,” Pilkington said, “as it now has all the modern comforts.”
The initial step in the restoration was conceptualizing plans to present to the City of Boulder’s Landmarks Board. Lewis helped the Dawsons gain approval for a four-car garage fashioned in the Queen Anne style of the home, and the new front porch was inspired by a fuzzy photograph of the original. Two patios flank Temple-Bowron, and the third floor, directly served by a private elevator, was conceived as an apartment for grandparents or grown children. A period-style fence was approved, and the Dawsons updated the landscaping and irrigation system.
Inside, Dawson aimed “to restore everything we could keep,” she said. The entryway’s wall-to-wall carpet was pulled up to reveal a gorgeous zebra floor of cherry and maple, and the two original fireplaces were refurbished with gas inserts while preserving the mantles’ intricate hand painting. Plaster rosettes adorning the main floor’s 11-foot ceilings were repaired in detail, and moldings and wood finishes perfectly mirror the home’s 1882 features.
Dawson was committed to a historically honest restoration. When exposing an original brick wall in the family room, she asked the mason to make it look “clean and tidy but not new,” explaining, “Don’t erase evidence of the home’s history.” She had more than a dozen of the home’s light fixtures rewired and refurbished – after a lengthy quest for hundreds of replacement crystals.”
“The challenges and fun were in finding balance between replacing or modernizing systems and structure and keeping the historic character, between restoring original features and making it comfortable for a contemporary lifestyle,” she added.
Pilkington began construction by opening the walls. “We found the floor structure had been undermined by the furnace ducts put in when the home was being used as an office building, and the roof was not adequately supported,” Dawson said. “We found horsehair and borax insulation. And we found doorframes signed by Edwin Temple himself.”
Comprehensive foundation stabilization was followed by an overhaul of the wooden structures and flooring throughout the home (including a two-inch sag in the kitchen). “The floor joists were reinforced or replaced, as they had been cut through to accommodate plumbing and heating,” Pilkington said, “and we had to configure the structure for the roof load to transfer to the foundation.” Pilkington and his team removed the home’s failing internal gutters and rebuilt the perimeter of the roof, including its corbels, or decorative brackets.
Pilkington was similarly engaged with the indoor restoration. The grand entryway staircase “had to be torn down to the root framing,” he said. Treads were replaced, scrolled woodwork was harmonized and a curved section of the banister on the second-floor landing was meticulously reproduced. The entryway leads to the dining room, the centerpiece of which is one of the restored fireplaces, and towering ornate panel doors open to the adjacent kitchen.
Often for safety reasons, the project ballooned beyond the Dawsons’ preliminary projections. The home was fully rewired, the main floor’s seven-foot windows were restored and the second-floor ceilings in the hallways were slightly lowered to install a duct system. “We matched all of the casings and base and plinth blocks,” Pilkington said. “The carpentry crew did an amazing job.” Pilkington himself came to know the home well: “When it snowed, we’d run up to the third floor to look at the Flat Irons and take a few pictures.”
Dawson worked with Kathi Mann, an interior designer from Silicon Valley, to weave the modern finishes and appliances of the kitchen into the historic space. Dawson said, “We worked hard to honor the style and to make it live easily. The off-white walls and near-black trim gave us a plain yet dramatic backdrop for art, and in the kitchen, gray cabinetry with brass hardware plays off that.” Van Gough quartzite tops the generous island, and two sinks, two dishwashers and separate refrigerator and freezer towers create a dream space for the home chef.
While the Temple-Bowron House remains beloved by Dawson, her family is spending more time away from Boulder. “It was a hard decision,” she said. After all, Dawson fell for the house because, she said, “it had character – which is vague, but you know it when you feel it,” and if anything, the Temple-Bowron House has grown in character through a remarkable work of restoration.
The Temple-Bowron House is listed for $6 million by Joel Ripmaster, founder/president and Realtor® Emeritus of Colorado Landmark, Realtors.
“My firm has focused on finding the most landmark homes and the best buyers for them, for over 40 years. Rarely do you come across a property that is so special. The house has been incredibly modernized while remaining true to the original and historical feel and it represents a rarity in this real estate market. Boulder is such a unique and specialized market compared to the rest of the country and Pine Street is the crown jewel amongst them. The future home owner will be someone who recognizes the timelessness, the rarity and the value of such a landmark home.”
By Sarah Huber, At Home Colorado