Located at 400 Eighth Avenue in Denver, the Governor’s Residence at the Boettcher Mansion was originally built in 1908 for the Cheesman family. In 1924 Gladys Cheesman Evans sold the Colonial Revival residence to Claude K. Boettcher, who lived there with his wife for more than three decades. After their deaths the Boettcher Foundation offered the house to the State of Colorado for use as the governor’s residence, a purpose it has served since 1960.
In 1903 Denver business leader Walter Cheesman started to plan a grand mansion on his land at the southeast corner of East Eighth Avenue and Logan Street. He hired the architects Aaron Gove and Thomas Walsh to design the mansion, but his ill health delayed the project. He died in 1907, before construction could begin.
After Cheesman’s death, his wife, Alice, and his daughter, Gladys, kept the project alive. To design the house, they hired architects Willis Marean and Albert Norton, whom they had engaged to build the Cheesman Memorial Pavilion in the newly renamed Cheesman Park starting in 1908. The mansion’s elaborate acre of gardens was designed by George Kessler, who laid out the landscaping around the Cheesman Pavilion.
Completed in 1908, the Cheesman mansion was a grand Colonial Revival residence, with twenty-seven rooms spread over two and a half stories. The Eighth Avenue entrance was framed with a formal portico and large Ionic columns, and the residence as a whole was memorable for its imposing symmetrical façade of red brick and white trim. Inside, mahogany woodwork and oak floors lent solidity and style to the large rooms and long hallways.
Soon after the residence was completed, it hosted the 1908 wedding of Gladys Cheesman and John Evans II, the grandson of territorial governor John Evans. The couple shared the house for three years with Alice Cheesman before they had their first child and built their own residence. They continued to be frequent visitors. After 1911, the mansion’s primary resident was Alice Cheesman, who lived there until her death in January 1923.
After Alice’s death, the Evans family sold the mansion to Claude K. Boettcher, who bought the house and much of its contents for $75,000 in February 1923. In their thirty-five years of living there, Boettcher and his wife, Edna, added many of the antique furnishings that gave the house’s interior its character. Their many notable acquisitions included a Louis XIV French cylinder desk made by one of the king’s own furniture makers; a Waterford crystal chandelier that hung in the White House in 1876, when Colorado attained statehood; and a variety of rare tapestries, Italian marble statues, and eighteenth-century Venetian chairs and French chandeliers. Over the years, the couple also expanded the house several times—most notably, by enlarging the south-facing Palm Room, which was finished with gleaming white marble.
The Boettchers made the house a center of high society and hosted many famous visitors. They held a party for Dwight Eisenhower the summer before he was elected president, and Charles Lindbergh was a frequent visitor because of his friendship with the Boettchers’ son, Charles II. Lindbergh stayed there so often that one of the second-floor guest suites was known as “Charlie’s Room.”
When Claude and Edna Boettcher died in 1957 and 1958, respectively, the house was left to the Boettcher Foundation, with the stipulation that it should be offered to the State of Colorado as a governor’s residence. Initially, the state was hesitant to take over the property because of the expense of maintaining such a large, old house. At one point, the contents were cataloged for auction when it looked as if the house would be demolished and the land sold. At the end of 1959, however, Governor Stephen McNichols accepted the Boettcher Foundation’s donation of the house, with the foundation agreeing to provide a $45,000 grant to cover maintenance costs over the next three years. The mansion was officially transferred to the state in spring 1960, and the McNichols family moved into the house in 1961.
Since McNichols, the mansion has served as the state’s executive residence, with the first family living on the second and third floors. In 1969 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in the 1980s, it received an extensive restoration. In 2003 Governor Bill Owens issued an executive order officially renaming the building the “Governor’s Residence at the Boettcher Mansion” to recognize the Boettcher family and the Boettcher Foundation for donating the building and assisting with its maintenance.
The Governor’s Residence hosts an open house every April as part of Doors Open Denver and offers free public tours during the summer and in December to showcase holiday decorations.