Altona Schoolhouse

The Altona Schoolhouse was completed in 1880 to serve as a one-room school for the community.  At the time of its construction, Altona had 60 days of school with a total of 40 students in attendance, ranging in age from 6 to 21.  Local residents recall the building being used not only for school but also for Christmas programs, community dinners, and other events.

In 1948, the school districts in the area began consolidating due to a declining rural population in the area and deteriorating buildings.  The last classes were held in the Altona schoolhouse in 1948, after which point the Altona students were sent to other schools.

In 1951 the building was purchased by John and Katrina Heil.  Shortly thereafter, the building was converted to a residence for one of the Heil’s children, Hilde, and her husband, Wayne Hillman.  The building remained in use as a residence for many years.   During its time as a residence, four additions were constructed to provide additional living spaces for the family.

In 2012, the Heil family sold the property, including the historic Altona Schoolhouse to Boulder County.  In 2013, the building was designated a Boulder County Historic Landmark.  It is the oldest of four remaining stone schoolhouses in Boulder County.

Recently, the residential additions were removed from the building, revealing the original form and materials of the rural one-room schoolhouse.  The exterior walls of the building are constructed of locally sourced sandstone.  Most of the original windows remain intact.  Interior finishes, though modified, were intact and able to provide information regarding the original appearance of the inside of the building.

Form+Works Design Group is currently working with Boulder County Parks and Open Space to restore the stone schoolhouse to its original appearance.  Upon completion of the project, the building will be open to school and civic groups.  Programs will be provided by Boulder County Parks and Open Space staff and volunteers, demonstrating the late 19th century rural education system.  The original materials will be restored, and the building will be furnished with typical schoolhouse furnishings of the era.

Concurrently, Boulder County is working to develop the 210-acre open space property around the schoolhouse.  The development will include interpretive trails, signage, and parking, allowing access to the property for recreational use.

We are excited to see the schoolhouse restored and the open space site available for community use!

Jessica Reske


Buildings are rarely known for their architects and if they are, the architects are likely a select few “star-chitects” like the familiar Wright, Liebeskind, Graves, Calatrava, etc. Usually the buildings are known for their function or named after their Owner. We were surprised and excited when we were contacted by Family of Christ Presbyterian Church in Greeley to assist them with a house known for its very unique architect. Bessie Smith was born and raised in Greeley and became an architect by correspondence. She was Denver’s only female architect from 1901-1903. She returned to Greeley in 1903 to practice. She was known for climbing around on her buildings to inspect the construction.


The house was built c. 1907 for the Carrel Family. Up until 2016 it was located at 1115 15th Street. The City condemned the block and began plans for demolishing the structures to make way for a future municipal project. The Bessie Smith house is one of only a handful of surviving examples of her work in Greeley, which include the Coronado Building (at 9th Ave and 9th St) and the Plumb Farm House (Now the Wright-Plumb Farm Learning Center). Linde and Ron Thompson, members of Historic Greeley, Inc., began spreading the word to save the house. Family of Christ Presbyterian Church, located on 35th Ave, answered the call to save the house. Having a nice large property, they saw the potential for the house to become part of their growing community outreach programs and a way to help even more people.

While Family of Christ has taken the lead, this project has been, and will continue to be a community endeavor.  Creating space for a new municipal building, the City of Greeley awarded the house to the church after reviewing its community-minded proposal.  Going forward, Family of Christ is looking for additional partners to help rehabilitate the house and carry out the community center’s mission of “Honoring History, Practicing Hospitality, and Seeking Harmony.” 

Family of Christ, with the aid of a City stipend, moved the house into their parking lot and began the first step in setting the building back down. When Form+Works met with the church, the new foundation walls had been poured, but they were looking for assistance in working through their vision of what the final building will be to complete the systems rough-in and adequately plan for providing accessibility. Form+Works worked with this wonderful group and now, with the City’s approval, the house is ready for the final move to its new home. Stay-tuned as we will surely document this momentous event. Once on the ground, the Thompsons and Form+Works will continue the work to fully restore this beautiful building.

Don’t let the before photos scare you, the bones of the house are in good condition.

Bessie Smith’s architectural career after 1910 is unknown. Records show she moved to San Diego with her father in 1910 and in 1912 she married Benjamin Wellington Bryant. Together they had a daughter, Barbara.  Bessie died at the age of 39 in San Diego and there are no records that she ever returned to Greeley.

When I first read about Bessie Smith, the correlations between the two of us are quite striking. Having been born and raised in Greeley myself, my house was less than 2 miles from the original Carrel House location. Our birth years are exactly 100 years apart – 1882 and 1982 – and I moved to San Diego after getting married. Of course, our stories depart from there, as I returned to Colorado after my graduate degree.

Regardless, I was elated that Form+Works was selected to be a part of this very special building in my hometown. I think about Bessie Smith as I stitch the histories of our projects back together from the same time period. She lived a drastically different life than other women of her time. She likely had no idea that 110 years later a group of women architects would be looking back at her work, grateful she paved the way for us in the practice of architecture. I like to think that she simply loved the discipline as much as we do.  Various articles and opinions about her reach the same consensus –  Bessie Smith never received the attention she deserved, but we are hoping this project is the first step in shedding some light onto her work and life. Additionally, we hope to honor her as we put this house to a new use for First Family of Christ and the Greeley community.

Natalie Lord


Far View Visitor Center

Jessica Reske

We are very excited to be working on a project at Mesa Verde National Park!  In cooperation with the Mesa Verde Museum Association, the National Park Service, and History Colorado, we just began work on a Historic Structure Report for the Far View Visitor Center.  I recently had the pleasure of going to Mesa Verde to attend the project kick-off meeting.  We are fortunate to be working with a great group on this unique project!

The building was constructed as part of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program.   The program was federally sponsored, and was in place from 1956-1966.  The programs’ goals were to be implemented by 1966, the 50th anniversary of the National Park system. Efforts undertaken under the program included improving deteriorated and dangerous conditions in National Parks nationwide which were the result of a visitor boom following World War II.  Under the program, the National Park Service sought to add modern conveniences within the parks, educate the public, and standardize the National Park experience.  The concept of a visitor center, now a staple of National Parks nationwide, came about under this program.  Designers during this time embraced modern, contemporary structural forms, a stark contrast to the rustic buildings previously found in the National Parks.

Visitor Centers constructed during the Mission 66 era were usually prominently sited on major roads within the parks and were recognizable as structures associated with their specific park.  Typically, expansive views were provided from the visitor centers, providing views of nearby natural and cultural resources.  The Far View Visitor Center exemplifies all of these characteristics.

The Far View Visitor Center was dedicated in 1968, and is one of the last Mission 66 visitor centers to open.   The cylindrical shape of the building was intended to evoke the form of a kiva, a Puebloan ceremonial structure found throughout the park.   From the deck of the building, an impressive visa of the mesa is visible.  The visitor center is sited on the main road through the park, across the street from other amenities such as the Far View Lodge and the Far View Terrace Cafe and gift shop.

The visitor center was closed in 2012, upon completion of a more modern visitor center, located at the entrance to the park.  The building is currently vacant.  Part of the Historic Structure Report will include a study of possible uses for the building, including early discussions with a possible user for the building!


View from the observation deck of the Far View Visitor Center




Losing Colorado’s Manitou Sandstone

Last night Form+Works met with the Home Owner’s Association of Charline Place, a condominium building in Denver’s Pennsylvania Street Historic District (if this sounds familiar to any out-of-towners, the District includes the famous Molly Brown House Museum). As you recall, they were one of the State Historical Fund’s 2017 Mini-Grant Recipients that we announced a couple of months ago.


The Charline Place project will be an exterior evaluation of the historic windows, brick and Manitou Sandstone masonry. The project will provide a preservation plan for the HOA to utilize to focus their efforts in a prioritized and manageable way.

We are excited to work with Historic Denver and add Charline Place to our list of Manitou Sandstone buildings we’ve been fortunate to work on. The thing that makes Manitou Sandstone so unique is that it is one of Colorado’s “extinct” materials. Extinct is in quotes because technically the stone isn’t gone….but it would likely be pretty frowned upon to start quarrying right in the middle of Garden of the Gods, one of Colorado’s designated National Natural Landmarks. Needless to say, the only source of exact replacement of Manitou now would be to deconstruct another building, which as preservationists, we would be vehemently against.


At the turn of the 20th century, the stone was quarried and utilized for countless buildings around Colorado. It is a beautiful stone with a consistent red-orange color. Unfortunately Colorado’s drastic freeze-thaw cycles take a significant toll on sandstones of all kinds, but Manitou, although beautiful, was not one of the most durable stones. The face of the stone tends to “sugar”. That process is exactly what you would imagine. As a sedimentary rock, sandstone is formed by grains of sand being pressed together over time. Since there is no binding material holding the sand together, the durability of the stone is really subject to the amount of pressure it was formed under.

What we have seen on past projects and now on areas of Charline Place, is that there was a campaign – sometime in the 60s and 70s (what we now think of as the “Preservation Dark Ages”) where sandstone buildings were parged  (application of a layer of concrete or stucco)  with the thought that this would stop the deterioration. Unfortunately, what we are seeing is this actually increased the deterioration of the stone more dramatically. You will see areas that haven’t been parged are often in great shape and areas with parging can cause the entire face of the stone (sometimes several inches in) to fall off.

As our project at Charline Place gets started we will be sure to better illustrate what we are describing. Be sure to keep up with our Instagram and Facebook pages for progress updates.



Belmar Farm Caretaker’s Residence

Jessica Reske

Initially constructed as part of the May Bonfil’s estate, the Belmar Farm Caretaker’s Residence is one of the few buildings at the Lakewood Heritage Center which is in its original location.  The building was abandoned in 1962 when the May Bonfils mansion was demolished.  Beginning in 1976, the small structure was used as offices for the Lakewood Heritage Center.  In the 1990s, the offices outgrew the space and the building was used for storage until 2008.  Since then the building has sat vacant on the Lakewood Heritage Center grounds.

As it was an out-building on a large estate, limited historic information is available for the structure.  However, it is clear that the building was constructed in multiple phases and that the earliest section of the building is a kit home.

Kit homes were popular in the early to mid 1900s.  It is believed that the original section of the Caretaker’s Residence was a kit home from the Aladdin Company, which manufactured kit homes from 1906 through 1981.

Kit homes were originally shipped via train and later by truck, making them available across the country.   Some of the pieces for the kit home were typically stamped to indicate how the structure was to be assembled.  Looking at catalogs from various kit home manufacturers the Caretaker’s Residence matches a style in Aladdin catalogs from the early 1900s.  As no company name was found as part of the identification stamps, and the style matches the catalog, it is likely that the Aladdin Company was the manufacturer.

The stamped framing members in the Caretaker’s residence were observed during the process of completing a Historic Structure Assessment for the building in 2011.  Now that some of the interior finishes have been removed, the stamps are visible on roof framing members throughout the building.


The east and west wings of the building do not have similar stamps and are framed differently, indicating they were constructed at a later date as additions to the original kit home.

We are currently working with Hord Coplan Macht and JVA, Inc. to complete Phase 1 of the rehabilitation of the building.  Summit Construction Services and Sandcreek Construction are working together to serve as the general contractor for the project.  A second phase of work is anticipated, leading to re-use of the building as a community meeting space, support space for events at the Lakewood Heritage Center, and a home for a small research library and archive focusing on the May Bonfils estate.


Colorado State Capitol Projects – Part 1: The Roof

Natalie Lord

I first stepped into the Colorado State Capitol as a student when I attended Shawsheen Elementary in Greeley and have been enamored with the building ever since. There are so many surprises to be found inside and out. Every time I see the line of buses along Grant Street and the groups of children eagerly walking into the building, I am reminded of that first wonderment. The Capitol building belongs to all of us in Colorado and we take great pride in working on it carefully and bringing back pieces of its historic beauty.

Jane and I have been honored to work at the Capitol for the past several years. Jane’s work on the Capitol began on the restoration of the windows as part of the Dome Team. I joined her near the end of the last construction phase and since then we’ve worked together on the many phases of restoring the east wing, stone and windows, and the roof and skylights.

As you’ve likely seen from our Facebook and Instagram posts (if not, click on the links to follow us) phase 2 of the roof and our 4th phase of the committee rooms have started construction for the Summer. The Capitol building is a unique place to work. Our Legislative Session runs from January until May, making the construction windows short and the need for multiple phases necessary.

When the Capitol was completed, the roof was predominatly slate tile with areas of flat lock and standing seam copper. The gutters as well were all copper. I write that information in two short sentences, but am instantly reminded of the hours spent in the archives looking through the original drawings, old photographs and newspaper clippings to determine the original construction and find the story behind why and how it changed over time.

Slate roofs are widely known as 100+ year roofs. And the failures over time are generally from deteriorated materials beneath the shingles. Repairs to slate roofs can sometimes be liminted to removing the slate, replacing the substrates and membranes and reinstalling the same original slate.

Yet at just about 115 years after its completion, our Capitol has seen multiple roof replacements. Our initial task was to figure out why in order to best propose a design for the new roof. There is nothing worse than repeating a mistake, even if it is historically accurate to do so. So we like to start every project with research and forensics to have a more complete picture.

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Here’s a snippet from the historic drawings showing the original roof construction. All architects have a slight envy for the days of the hand drafted detail. No computer could compete with this.


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Photo circa 1910 when the slate was still on the building.


In 1927, just about 23 years after the roof was complete, the slate was replaced with a terra cotta tile roof. Specifically a white glazed Ludowici Greek Pan and Cover tile. This replacement was much too soon in the design team’s opinion, and again terra cotta roofs are also known to be 100+ year roofs, yet just 40 short years later the main spans of the roof were replaced again. This time with an asphalt shingle roof, similar to what you will find on most homes. However, this time, the terra cotta remained on the north and south wings of the building and on the small gabled ends on the east and west wings.


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Cut sheet from Ludowici’s Greek tile collection – still in production today.


This was a clue that helped us put together the team’s hypothesis which is that the slope of the main roof is too shallow and both the slate and terra cotta likely failed due to driving rain. This hypothesis was built upon when we were able to locate some of the original slate from the roof and examine it. It was sitting in a gentleman’s backyard right here in Colorado. After obtaining several of the tiles, we realized they were still in excellent condition, which answered our question of whether it was a bad slate that was used. What we did find is that they were very short tiles and they were not overlapped enough when they were installed to prevent water from getting in, since the angle of the roof was so shallow.

Once the team determined this, it was time to find the best method of restoration. We worked with History Colorado and the State to strike a balance between honoring the historic nature of the building, while also creating a long-lasting roof. The resolution was to replace the areas with greater slopes with slate tile like the original roof. The new slates are longer in length to improve on the original detailing. On the low-sloping roof, the team designed a Freedom Gray, standing seam copper roof system. The Freedom Gray will eventually patina to more closely match the color of the slate in order to give the roof visual consistency, but the standing seam is a better application for these low-slope areas.


An early mock-up of options on the roof. Freedom Gray was selected for the Standing Seam (lower portion)


In addition to the roof itself, other historic features are being recreated. The leaking skylights, which have been shrink-wrapped for years to protect the building’s interior, are being replaced with new skylights with low-E insulated glass to reduce heat gain inside the building.


2015 Photograph of the roof showing one of the shrink-wrapped skylights, the base of the flagpole, roof access hatch and ladder.

There was originally a decorative flagpole, an ornamental chimney cap and vent hoods on the building. Photographs over time, show parts of these elements were modified and/or removed until eventually all pieces were taken off the roof.



Snippet from the original drawings showing the decorative chimney cap (left) and vent caps


A few safety improvements are included as part of the project as well. A fall protection system is being added to improve safety for maintenance personnel. Snow bars and guards, a larger roof hatch, ladder and platform were also installed as part of Phase 1. Finally the lighting for the dome and for the grounds will be fully replaced with new more efficient LED lights. The lights are also being relocated on the building to less conspicuous areas to reduce the visual impact.

We will keep updating as construction progresses, but here are some photos from Phase 1.



Congrats SHF Mini-Grant Recipients & Form+Works’ New Office

Natalie Lord

Each year on June 1st, History Colorado releases the list of mini-grant recipients who applied for the April 1st grant cycle. This is a very exciting time for our friends and clients who put forth great efforts to get this far and we are excited to celebrate with them! So without further adieu, in order of the State Historical Fund (SHF) list (because, just like our children, we love them all equally)…..


  • La Junta Plaza Block Building


  • Charline Place




Congratulations to all! To see the full list of April 2017 Mini-grant Recipients Click Here. Also come back on August 1st when the remaining $35,000+ April 2017 awarded grants are announced.

For those who might not be aware, the SHF mini-grant funding is for projects up to $35,000 and that fall under one of three categories: Acquisition & Development, Education, and Survey & Inventory.  If you are interested in learning more about the process or need assistance with your grant application, please reach out, we are here to help.

In other news, Form+Works officially has a new office! We signed the lease yesterday at 1738 Wynkoop and will be moving in over the next several days. You know how architects are – we will need to try out several space layouts before we settle on one. But we are planning an open house when it is presentable for visitors. With Wynkoop Brewery two doors down and Milkbox Ice Creamery across the street, we feel confident the location can accommodate any need. Coming soon, we will tell you more about our building and why it is so special to Denver and LoDo.

New Office




A Look Inside the Paris Mill

Jessica Reske

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a historic gold mill high in the Rocky Mountains looks like?  I’ve been working on the Paris Mill for the last four years and the building never ceases to amaze me!  Keep reading for a glimpse inside this unique structure!

Paris Mill South Elevation

Constructed in multiple phases, the earliest section of the Paris Mill was built in 1895 to process gold being mined high on Mount Bross in Buckskin Gulch.  The Mill operated for over 40 years, shutting down operations in 1937.  From 1937 until 1977 the building sat vacant.  In 1977, the Mill was briefly re-opened to work a drilling operation in Buckskin Gulch.  The Mill closed permanently shortly thereafter.

In 2004 the Mill structure was listed on Colorado Preservation Inc.’s list of Most Endangered Places.  In 2013, I became involved in the project when Park County received a grant to begin rehabilitation of the building.  Since then, I have been part of the rehabilitation of two sections of the building, and completed a Master Plan for the site.  Currently Form+Works Design Group is working on a construction documents package for the next three phases of rehabilitation for the building.

As part of the current scope of work, the building was LiDAR scanned which resulted in a digital 3D model of the building.  Visual Globe completed this endeavor, and from their model, the design team has been able to produce accurate floor plans, elevations, and sections of this complex building.

In mid-April, Form+Works Design Group and JVA, Inc. completed a site visit to document the current conditions of the building and identify a schematic design level scope of work.  Our site visit included a top to bottom look of the inside of the Mill.

Throughout the Mill much of the original equipment remains in place.  One of the goals of the project is to allow visitors interior access throughout the building.  This will provide greater understanding of how the milling process works as well as insight into the lives of the miners who worked at mills such as the Paris.  The following photos were taken inside the Paris Mill earlier this Spring and provide just a glimpse of the amazing Mill structure and the equipment remaining inside.  Stay tuned for updates as we continue to work on this unique project!





Ten in Ten: Happy Preservation Month

May is Historic Preservation Month and to help raise awareness for the National Trust’s This Place Matters campaign we wanted to share our May adventures to date! With the thaw of winter, the bustle of site visits and kick-off meetings is upon us! Form+Works has spent the last 10 days visiting 10 great people and places around the state which help tell the story of our rich heritage.

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On May 1 we completed a window assessment for the gorgeous masonry buildings along Platte Street between 15th and 16th Streets in Denver.

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On May 2 we had the opportunity to travel to Crested Butte for the kick-off meeting for our project at the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum.

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On May 3 we attended the construction meeting at Ponderosa Lodge on the La Foret Conference and Retreat Center in the Black Forest.  This phase of the project is nearly complete!

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May 4 we headed to Pueblo for field documentation work at the Hose Co. No. 3 building, the current home of the Pueblo Fire Museum.


On Cinco de Mayo we toured the Wagon Wheel Gap Fluorspar Mine in Creede, Colorado with our friends at Wattle and Daub Contractors to evaluate current conditions and determine emergency repairs required. The mine operated between 1911 and 1950 and the fluorite was sent to Pueblo to be used as a flux at the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company.


We met with the Colorado Springs Historic Preservation Board on May 8 to discuss the Colorado Springs Depot Masonry Rehabilitation project.  Construction Documents to be completed soon with construction anticipated later this year!

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On May 9, we met with the City of Loveland and the Pulliam Community Foundation to discuss the upcoming rehabilitation of the Pulliam Community Building.

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While we were up in northern Colorado, we also dropped off the permit drawings for the Bessie Smith House.  Soon the house will be set on its new foundation!

Briggsdale briggsdale2

We also found time to head to Briggsdale with Colorado Preservation Inc. to check out the Land Utilization Headquarters buildings.  We’re looking forward to working together on a Historic Structure Assessment for the buildings.


Finally, on May 10 we checked out the City of Aurora’s WWI Memorial, located on the UCD Anschutz Campus.  The Memorial will be the subject of an assessment and documentation effort in preparation for cleaning and restoration.

We’ve already had a busy Historic Preservation Month – we are looking forward to continuing to work with great clients and their beautiful historic buildings and structures!

Hose Company No. 3

Jessica Reske

Hose Co. No. 3 was constructed in 1894 to house horses and horse-drawn fire-fighting apparatus.  The building was designed by John F. Bishop, a prominent Pueblo architect.   Constructed of brick and stone masonry, the building was designed in the 19th century commercial style, and includes elements of the Italianate style.  The front (northwest facade) is faced with grey sandstone while the side and rear facades are constructed of multi-wythe brick masonry.  At the rear of the building, a hose tower rises an additional story past the roof line of the two-story building.  The entire building was painted sometime prior to the 1960s based on available photographs of the building.

When constructed, the interior of the building was designed to accommodate one horse-cart, two stalls for horses, and the hose tower drain on the first floor.  The second floor included a sleeping room, sitting room with lockers, bathroom, and feed room with hay and a feed box for grain.  The feed room was converted to a kitchen in 1915 when the fire department ended the era of horse-drawn equipment.

The building actively used by the Pueblo Fire Department until 1979.  From 1979 to 1989, the fire department used the building for storage.  In 1989, the Pueblo Fire Museum first opened in the building.  The Museum operated until 1992, when it was closed for several years.  Following inventory of the collection, the Museum was re-opened and remains in use as the Pueblo Fire Museum.  The building is one of the oldest in Pueblo and is a City of Pueblo Historical Landmark.

Form+Works Design Group is working with Hord Coplan Macht to produce construction documents for the rehabilitation of the exterior of the building.  In addition, critical repair work will be completed this summer to re-anchor loose sandstone and remove failing stone on the front facade of the building.


For additional information about the history of the building and the Museum please visit