District wants study on historic farmhouse

Posted 4/24/10

The Highlands Ranch Metro District wants a detailed assessment of a historic structure before deciding whether it should be renovated or demolished. …

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District wants study on historic farmhouse


The Highlands Ranch Metro District wants a detailed assessment of a historic structure before deciding whether it should be renovated or demolished.

The Plews House, a farmhouse built in the early 1900s, still stands just south of C-470 and Santa Fe Drive, but a crumbling foundation and unstable frame increased construction costs beyond what the district anticipated when it attempted to refurbish the structure for public use. It was to be the centerpiece of Fly’n B Park, which is in its first phase of improvements, but the home’s future is decidedly up in the air.

The board voted April 21 to request a “historic structure assessment” grant through the state. If approved, the district could receive up to $15,000 for an assessment that would determine whether the Plews House can be saved, at what cost and for what uses, said Jeff Case, acting director of parks, recreation and open space.

District officials initially set a budget of $425,000, but a revised renovation estimate put the price tag at $718,000. Renovating the Plews House for public and possibly office uses pushes costs higher because there are more structural safety requirements.

The metro district did not get a structural assessment because it originally intended to perform modest upgrades to the façade and interior to allow for community events. But when crews got into the walls, they discovered deficiencies that forced them to halt their renovation work.

Officials have considered demolishing the home and rebuilding a structure with a similar architectural style. The cost of a new structure, including demolition of the Plews House and construction or a replacement, is roughly $507,000.

However, some wondered about whether the home’s historic integrity would be maintained if it were converted for office use or a popular public gathering spot.

Several members of local historic societies attended the April 21 meeting at the district’s headquarters and voiced their support for keeping the Plews House intact. Gretchen Farrell, a member of the Douglas County Historic Preservation Board, said she is excited about the property, and asked that

Susan Nies, a resident who first discovered the Plews House earlier this month after riding by on a recreation trail, said she was drawn the home. She noticed fencing around it and began to look into its history and future and found that it could be torn down. Nies described it as a “treasure” for the community.

The metro district will incur some costs for stopping the improvements, including stabilizing the structure and backing out of a construction contract. Funding for the park and home improvements came from Erickson, which built the Wind Crest retirement community near the property.

The Plews House could be reviewed by the Douglas County Historical Landmark board, but it is not clear when that might happen. There was concern that it might be razed after being deemed a landmark.

The board was scheduled to discuss the fate of the Plews House during a follow-up meeting on April 27, but district general manager Terry Nolan said there was no reason to further discuss the issue after the decision to seek an HSA grant.

Those in attendance April 21 applauded the district’s effort to try and get a third-party analysis of the home. The grant review process is expected to take about one month.


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