The Astor House Alliance (AHA!) is an ad-hoc group of citizens concerned fro the preservation and future use of the Astor House.
May 2, 2021
Foothills Art Center is currently requesting a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Board. The Astor House Alliance (AHA!) studied the proposal and submitted the following public comments to the board:
Astor House: Comments on Foothills Art Center April 6, 2021 Plan
April 30, 2021
These comments reflect the thoughts of the members of the Astor House Alliance (AHA), an ad-hoc group of citizens encouraging the preservation and use of the Astor House. We appreciate your consideration of these suggestions and can provide additional information if needed.
Preservation of the Existing Structure
We support the proposed rehabilitation and upgrades to the existing building as outlined in the proposal. These repairs and restorations, along with upgrades to systems and modifications to enhance accessibility, will enhance this public space a community resource.
Change in Selected Proposal
A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment.
The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, #1
This addition was not shown in the public proposal that was selected by City Council in 2020. If the lessee provides convincing justification for an addition, the massing, size and scale must be reduced without causing further incursion into the Astor Yard.
Appropriateness of the Proposed Addition
New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.
The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, #9
Differentiation of Old vs. New.
The proposed connection of the addition to the existing building, the glass “light touch” transition, is done with care to not impact the historic fabric of the Astor House. This band of separation provides ample visual cues to people to clearly distinguish the old from the new.
For any addition to the Astor House, an exterior covered in perforated white metal screen cladding is inappropriate. Extensive use of this cladding would not be sympathetic to the historic character and is a visual distraction. There are several building materials and surfaces that would be compatible with the design, materials, and feeling of the existing building while still differentiating the historic structure from the modern addition. Introducing expansive walls of unbroken modern materials and textures that adjoin a historic building, which are not found elsewhere in the downtown or in the neighboring historic district, is not consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards or Golden’s historic character.
Massing, Size and Scale.
The proposed addition is very large – nearly the size of the existing building. The Astor House is located in an open setting with all four elevations comprising the visual connection to history. This addition would compete with the original structure on two sides and completely blocks a third, thus compromising the historic integrity of the building. We understand that this additional space is desired to accommodate public access and exhibits, but a reduced scale that is more compatible and subordinate to the historic building is appropriate.
We also suggest that, if there is an addition, architectural elements from the historic structure be mirrored in the addition. The Astor House is a fairly simple building, and the size and spacing of the windows provide a distinguishing characteristic that break-up large expanses of exterior wall. Although we understand that actual windows may not be practical considering the proposed use of the new space, recessed window outlines with contrasting painting would help to blend the addition with the existing building. The suggestion of mortar lines, through indenting or painting, could also be added as an exterior finish.
Preservation of the Astor House Yard
The proposed addition would encumber more than a third of the Astor House yard – an established city park. In the public proposal selected by City Council in 2020 the Astor Yard was shown to be maintained in its entirety, slightly improved, and public except for occasional temporary setups for events. Would the remaining Astor Yard still be primarily open to the public? We would like additional public discussion about the long-term use of this space.
We recommend that additional discussion take place concerning the mass, size, materials and architectural details of the exterior of the proposed addition and the future use of the established city park. If the existing proposal is approved, we recommend that these discussions and potential adjustments to the plan be stipulations to that approval.
June 10, 2020
The Astor House Alliance (AHA!) is an ad-hoc group of citizens concerned fro the preservation and future use of the Astor House. We originally had planned to hold two public meetings at the end of March and early April, but with the pandemic shutdowns we switched gears to an on-line survey. We began by asking people to “Dream Big.” We had 146 responses and a lot of thoughtful answers. After summarizing the results, we followed up with a second survey–“Get Real!”–that narrowed ideas by factoring in practicality and cost. There were 124 responses to this survey. You can find results of both surveys and our recommendations to City Council below.
May 16, 2020
Survey #2 – Get Real
The second survey about the Astor House is now underway. We hope you have read the results of the first survey (see below). This second survey brings in some practicality about this historic property. These factors include size, cost to rehabilitate, public investment to date, the challenge of small museums, potential sources of funding, historic preservation, and ownership. Considering the results of the first survey and the realities presented we are providing an opportunity for you to refine your thoughts about your preferences for use(es). You will be asked about who could manage your preferred uses of the Astor House and who could bear the cost.
This series of surveys is put together by some of the members of the Astor House Alliance (AHA!), an ad-hoc group of citizens for the preservation and use of the Astor House. Results are being widely shared with Golden City Council, City of Golden staff, Golden boards and commissions, local non-profit organizations, neighborhood groups, and a growing list of interested individuals.
- William and Sarah Litz, Golden Landmarks Association
- Barb Warden, GoldenToday.com and author of local history publications
- Meg Van Ness, historic preservation professional and served on Golden boards and commissions
- Janine Sturdevant, concerned neighbor, Past HPB Chair, Past President GLA, Past President Foothills Arts Center
- Suzy Stutzman, past and present service on Golden boards and commissions
- Rick Gardner, Gardner History, Golden Landmarks Association, Jefferson County Historical Commission
May 2, 2020
Results of Survey #1 – Dream Big
The first survey results are in and summarized from the ad-hoc citizen’s group for the preservation and use of the Astor House (we now call ourselves AHA! for Astor House Alliance). We originally had planned to hold two public meetings at the end of March and early April, but with the virus shutdowns we switched gears to an on-line survey. We are very pleased that we had 146 responses and a lot of thoughtful answers. We have chosen to follow the approach the City uses on master plan projects. We began by asking people to Dream Big. We plan to follow soon with subsequent surveys that will start to narrow ideas by factoring in practicality and cost.
March 20, 2020
With respect to current conditions, the upcoming community meetings regarding the future of the Astor House have been postponed. In place of the meetings we hope you will participate in a series of short surveys where your input will be recorded. This is the first in the series and focuses on the community’s ideas for the future of the Astor House…dream BIG. Later surveys will focus on financial sustainability and long-term protection of the Astor House.
The future of the Astor House, one of Golden’s most historic buildings, is uncertain. In the past it has served as a hotel, boarding house, and a museum. The future of the Astor House is wide open. It could be used as a “flex space” for various purposes during the day and others during the evening or transition from one use during the week to another on weekends. It could change uses through the year. In order to maintain its viability in the future, what is decided today as important doesn’t mean it will be the same years from now. So again, think BIG and let us know what your thought on what the next chapter should look like.
Take the DREAM BIG SURVEY!
March 20, 2020
SURVEY #1 NOW CLOSED