Location Number:

08

Address:

1310 Bannock Street

Hours:

Sat and Sun 10AM–4PM

The Byers-Evans House Museum, a Denver landmark, was built by the first publisher of the Rocky Mountain News.

Architect: Unknown
Architectural Style: Italianate
Year Built: 1883
Designation: National Register of Historic Places, Denver Landmark
Photo Restrictions: No flash photography

Structure
The Byers-Evans House is Italianate in design and made of common plum-colored brick. The details on the exterior include arched stonework over the windows, ornate chimneys, and decorative brickwork in geometric designs on different sections of the house. The original structure encompassed 3,500 square feet and now has spans over 10,000 square feet of space. There is an ornamental cast iron widow’s walk that encircles all but the north side of the house. The house also features leaded glass, segmental and Tudor arches above the second story bay window, and a Mansard porch roof. 

The interior of the building hosts a collection of period furniture that is original to the Evans tenure in the house. There are only three items in the house that belonged to the Byers, which were donated by their descendants. In 1912 the front parlor was remodeled to become a salon for their daughter Margaret to give musical performances. Between the family parlor and the library is an archway of Lincrusta Walton. The house has nine fireplaces in addition to central heating. 

Over the years, several other alterations were made to the house. In 1900 the front porch was altered, in 1902 a bathroom and pantry were added to the north side of the house, and in 1905 a bedroom, bathroom, and closet were added to the apartment wing. Following those additions, the servants’ dining room and laundry were added in 1909, and in 1911 the front stairway was moved. Keeping up with the times, an elevator was installed in 1954 behind the front stairs. In 1972 a burglar alarm was installed, and finally, new dining room wallpaper from England was installed in 1979. 

The kitchen and cook’s pantry boast skylights, which could be opened to allow excess cooking heat to escape. The cook, Carrie Erickson, was with the family for 35 years. The main entrance to the house was on Bannock Street, though the current main entrance is on 13th and entry is through the annex. 

The People
The house was built for William and Elizabeth Byers. William (1831-1903) was the first owner/editor of The Rocky Mountain News newspaper, and Elizabeth Sumner Byers (1834-1920) launched several of Denver’s earliest charities including the Ladies Union Aid Society (1860), which furnished a home for indigent elderly women. Byers lived in the house for six years, and then sold it to William Gray Evans (1855-1924) and Cornelia Gray Evans (1863-1955). The family was devout Methodist, and William was the son of John Evans (1814-1897), 2nd Territorial Governor of Colorado, and Margaret Gray Evans (1830-1906). 

William was the president of the Denver Tramway Company, and was influential in expanding the railroads and organizing the Denver Gas and Electric Light Company. He served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Denver. William was also influential in the completion of the Moffat Tunnel. His father, John Evans, who established the University of Denver, also established Northwestern University in Illinois. 

The two-story brick addition was added to accommodate William’s mother, Margaret Gray Evans and his sister Anne (1871-1941). They moved into the house in 1900 after the death of John Evans. This addition brought the house to 10,000 square feet of space. Margaret Evans and Elizabeth Byers were both active in charities and they spearheaded the establishment of the Denver Orphans’ Home in 1872.

William’s sister, Anne, was a prominent leader in Denver cultural affairs, having co-founded the Denver Art Museum and the Central City Opera House. Anne collected Southwestern Art, and her collection became the foundation for the Denver Art Museum. She was also a member of the New York World’s Fair Committee. Original Evans furnishings and remnants of Anne’s collection of southwestern Indian and Hispanic artifacts are on display in her living quarters.  Anne served more than 30 years on Denver’s Library Commission and, along with Denver University professor Ida Kruse McFarlane (1873-1940), led the effort to restore the Central City Opera House in 1932, which is still operating today. Souvenirs and artwork the family collected as part of their extensive travel experiences are displayed in the house. 

Daughter Margaret (1889-1980) studied piano in Paris, hence the remodeling of the front parlor as a salon. Following the death of her husband in 1945, Margaret moved back into the house in 1955. Her sister Josephine (1887-1969) studied art in Paris at the same time, and the house has many examples of Josephine’s leatherwork displayed. Daughter Katherine (1894-1977) never married and lived her entire life in the house and was the house manager. Son John Evans (1884-1974) graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was employed by the Denver Tramway Company, and eventually found a career in banking. He married Gladys Cheesman, the only child of Walter and Alice Cheesman.

Restoration
The house was restored in 1989, returning it to its 1912-1924 peak period. The historical interpretation of the house and the family continues to focus on this time period. 

Architects
The architect of the original house is unknown. The work of Gary Long and Kathy Hoeft, the architects responsible for restoring the house, encompasses the modern era of historic preservation in Colorado and beyond. One of their first projects receiving national recognition was the revitalization of the Victorian homes in Denver’s Curtis Park neighborhood in the late 1970s. They guided many projects in the Georgetown-Silver Plume National Historic Landmark District and boasted significant commissions for the Stanley Hotel, Molly Brown House, Four Mile Historic Park, Creede Repertory Theater, and many others.

References
National Register of Historic Places Inventory: Nomination Form–October 31, 1977; Historic Denver Landmarks by Michelle Pearson, Historic Denver, Inc. 2007; Denver Women in Their Places–A guide to Women’s History Sites–by Marcia Tremmel Goldstein, Historic Denver, Inc. 2002; Guide to Denver Architecture: Second Edition–by Mary Voelz Chandler–2013; Byers-Evans House Chronology–prepared by Long-Hoeft Architects.