Rehabing Jarvis Hall, an 1878 Golden Landmark

Everyday on my way to and from work I have noticed with curiosity the rehabilitation project that has been going on at Jarvis Hall at the intersection of 19th St. and Cheyenne. Interest piqued, I contacted the owner, Dawn Huckaby, through the Jarvis Hall Facebook page and asked her if she would write a guest entry on our blog about her historic rehab project.

From Dawn Huckaby:

“Many of you may have been wondering what in the world is going on with the property at 19th and Cheyenne.  It has certainly seen many transformations in its 133 years.  When we bought the property four and a half years ago it was apartments, and had been, we’re told since 1932.  My husband and I bought the property with the intention of turning it into a single family home.  After land lording and property managing the building as apartments the first four years of our ownership, all tenants moved out at the end of the school year this past May and we began our remodel/restoration adventure.  Going against several early opinions that the structure should be torn down and a new one raised on the property, we were intent on keeping as much of the original structure that was still in livable condition intact, and removing what was poorly built with an addition in back. The structure was originally built in 1878 as a replacement school building for the first college established in Golden called Jarvis Hall.  It had a great history with the community so we found it important to not destroy that aspect.

The ‘deconstruction’ was a mixed bag of emotions.  As the contractor’s began removing layer after layer of remodels to get it down to the original structure it sadly became apparent that the front tower (which was determined was an addition to the original structure) was doing a major amount of damage to the front of the building.  It was not attached properly to the house and was starting to lean toward 19th Street pulling the front façade with it.  The first major remodel hurdle had hit us and it was decided that the tower would have to come off and be rebuilt and properly attached to the house.  Along with that came the remainder of the front of the structure due to major brick cracking and decomposition.  It was definitely a decision that did not come easy and once again we were questioned by several people involved as to why we aren’t tearing the whole thing down.

The one thing that kept us going with our original plan, and certainly the bright side of the deconstruction, had to be the interesting finds and discoveries everyone was making through this phase.  Several old bottles turned up as the dirt movers went to work.  One of our general contractors had heard that the Mason’s used to put a penny under door and window thresholds. After a back door threshold was removed he happened to dust away the dirt and found a 1902 penny underneath.  As expected many old newspapers were found in walls as insulation, however, surprisingly we found whole newspapers from 1906, including the Saint Louis Globe-Democrat, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Denver Post.  Along with these newspapers we found several old recipe cards we believe were put in the wall with the 1906 papers.  Having the house reveal some of its history during what felt like destruction was what helped us believe we were doing the right thing by not tearing it down.  It certainly would have been a lot less expensive to build new!

So with the deconstruction phase over we have begun the process of the remodel and getting the standing building structurally sound, safe, and soon to be livable again.  We have had many people in the community curious and interested in what is going on with the property.  We have tried to keep a Facebook page updated on Jarvis Hall for those who are interested.  It’s been an interesting adventure so far, and look forward to the day we can call it Home.”