Located at the northwest corner of East 10th Avenue and North Lafayette Street in Denver, the Stanley Arms opened in 1937 as one of the city’s earliest examples of an International Style apartment building. The building is best known as the home of medical researcher Florence Rena Sabin while she helped reform Colorado’s public health laws after World War II. In 1938 she retired from the Rockefeller Institute and moved to Colorado to live with her sister Mary, who had recently retired from a career with Denver Public Schools. They moved into an apartment in the newly built Stanley Arms.
The International Style in Denver
The International Style emphasized simple, functional designs built using modern materials with little ornamentation. It developed in the 1920s in Europe and was especially associated with Germany’s Bauhaus school of architecture and design. In the 1930s the style migrated to the United States along with Bauhaus architects such as Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who were fleeing the rise of the Nazis in Germany. In 1935 the International Style arrived in Denver, starting with the house that architect Casper Hegner built for his family at 2323 East Dakota Avenue.
One of the earliest International Style apartment buildings in Denver was the Stanley Arms, which was built in 1937 a few blocks west of Cheesman Park. Designed by Denver architect Walter H. Simon, it was a three-story building with a tan-brick façade and horizontal bands of casement windows. The building’s irregular plan allowed all the rooms in every apartment to have a window. Inside, the building was simple, even spare, with smooth plaster walls and ceilings.
In 1978 the Stanley Arms was converted from apartments to condominiums, but the change did little to alter the building’s exterior design or interior configuration. It remains a prime early example of the International Style in Denver. In 1999 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.