Belmar, Loretto, and Colorado’s Womens’ History


We love finding connections between our projects and we recently uncovered an interesting one. We are wrapping up design work on Phase 2 of the Belmar Caretaker’s Residence as well as a small exhibit space renovation at the Lakewood Heritage Center. Both projects are located on the Belmar Property, once owned by Mary Madeline “May” Bonfils Stanton. Belmar is a mash-up of Mary’s Mother’s name: Belle and her own, thus Belmar. May Bonfils Stanton lived from 1883 – 1962 and was the daughter of Frederick Bonfils, founder of the Denver Post. 


Mary Madeline “May” Bonfils Stanton. Photo Courtesy of Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

The caretaker’s residence is the last building on the Belmar estate in its original location. The oldest part of the structure was a kit house, meaning it was ordered from a catalog, brought to Colorado by rail car and erected using instructions and numbered components. (And you thought that IKEA dresser was difficult!)

Our design includes a viewing window in the ceiling where visitors will be able to look up into the attic and see the kit stamps on the ceiling joists. The first phase of the project involved stabilizing the structure and rehabilitating the exterior finishes. This phase includes adapting the interior for a new exhibit space, conference room and a research library. The building will have a new accessible entrance and restroom.


The Lakewood Heritage Center site is a collection of buildings from the area that were moved to the property in order to tell the story of Lakewood’s history. The exhibit space we are helping with is a small project supporting the exhibit design firm of Quatrefoil that will revamp the Heritage Center’s main welcome area. We are excited for construction in the spring, when we can share photos of these two projects as they get underway (be sure to follow us on Instagram).


The latest connection was found with one of our most recent projects, a historic assessment of the buildings on the Loretto Heights Campus. The new owner has been working with the City of Denver and the local community to develop a plan for the future of the 70+ acre site. That master plan will give consideration to the existing historic buildings. Our evaluation is taking a look at each building’s condition and rehabilitation needs. The most iconic building on the Loretto Heights campus is the Administration Building, constructed from 1890-1891 and designed by Frank E. Edbrooke. In 1911 the Chapel addition, also designed by Edbrooke, was completed on North end of the Administration Building. Frank’s nephew Harry Edbrooke designed Pancratia Hall in 1930 (Check out our connections to the Edbrookes here).


Loretto Heights College sprouted from St. Mary’s Academy, which was originally located on the site of the Convention Center. Loretto Heights was an all-girls college up until the 1970s. We were recently regaled with the deep and wonderful history by a former-student-turned-history-expert.


During her presentation, we realized Mother Pancratia, who founded the College was born Mary Louise Bonfils, the cousin of Frederick Bonfils. Research is still underway as to how large a part Frederick played in the overall development of the Loretto Heights Campus. However, May Bonfils was instrumental in the Campus’ second phase of development in the 1960s.

May Bonfils and her younger sister, Helen, took ownership of the Denver Post after their father. May had a sordid past, for that time period anyway, in that she eloped at 21 with a non-Catholic salesman. As retribution their parents left the majority of the Bonfils estate to May’s sister, Helen, and despite a multi-year legal battle, the only result was the sisters cut off all relations. May lived a semi-reclusive lifestyle on her 750 acre Belmar estate in Lakewood. She invested her wealth into buildings, including her mansion, which was an exact replica of Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon chateau in Versailles (Read more about it here).

At Loretto Heights, May endowed the Library that was constructed on the campus in 1961 and the Theater Building that was completed in 1962. These largely intact Mid-Century Modern buildings are real gems. They were designed by the firm of Musik and Musik and May’s portrait sits off the main lobby of the Theater. Unfortunately May died in 1962, so it is unknown if she ever saw the completion of the theater. However, her husband established the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation to continue her legacy of support for the arts. We love that we are working to preserve the last piece of her estate at Belmar and also have a connection to her philanthropic work on the Loretto Heights Campus!  


Beyond the individual buildings themselves, the Loretto Heights Campus offers a unique piece of Colorado history. Mother Pancratia was born in St. Louis in 1852. She was born into a Protestant family but received her education from the Sisters of Loretto. She joined the order at the age of 14 and later was assigned to teach in Denver. She arrived via stage coach at the age of 17, only about a decade after Denver became a City. 


Mother Pancratia Bonfils. Photo Courtesy of Loretto Heights College Archives, Regis University Archives


With our roots mostly in mining and Wild West-like activities, it is easy to imagine the type of Colorado she experienced upon her arrival. However, Mother Pancratia seems to have had one goal in mind: educating women. Loretto Heights College became an accredited college in 1918, pre-dating the 19th Amendment – which gave women the right to vote – by two years. They had an annual enrollment of around 800 and their programs included nursing, teaching, and fine arts degrees. It is always meaningful to realize that people like Mother Pancratia laid some of the groundwork for us and we find a lot to be thankful for as we walk around the campus for those that came before us!









Happy Holidays From Form+Works

2018 has been a wonderful year and we are so appreciative of everyone who has helped to make it a success. We are very thankful to continue to do what we love and play a small part in the life of great historic buildings.

From all of us on the Form+Works team, we hope everyone has a blessed and restful Holiday Season. We are looking forward to sharing more stories of great historic places and debuting our new red hardhats in 2019!


Branching Northward

The holidays are upon us at Form+Works Design Group and we love seeing the lights going up in the cities and towns surrounding our projects. This time of year really creates a magical glow and a closer connection.  We see teams and communities come together to kick-off projects that they may have been talking about for years. That is one of our favorite parts of what we do – celebrating the beginning of bringing these beautiful historic places back. It takes countless hours from so many big-hearted and passionate people, but when the project finally gets to that initial step forward, the celebratory energy is tangible.

historic photo1

We kicked off one such project this month, at the Wyoming Frontier Prison. Form+Works and Wattle and Daub Contractors were selected for the Adaptive Use of the historic Guard’s Quarters adjacent to the Prison. The Wyoming Frontier Prison , located in Rawlins and constructed from 1888-1901, was the first penitentiary in the state and currently operates as a Museum. The Museum worked tirelessly to obtain grants for the project to revitalize the building. We couldn’t be more excited to be involved in this project and add the great state of Wyoming to our list of areas we serve*. The Guard’s quarters will bring more amenities to the site, with a Carbon County Visitor’s Center, exhibit space, and much more! On the exterior the historic stone, windows and doors will all be rehabilitated. The project is planned to be completed by early 2020.


We hope everyone had a blessed and restful Thanksgiving. The Form+Works team is so thankful to do the work that we love.

*Fun Fact: Growing up, Natalie’s parents founded and performed in a bluegrass band named “Why?oming”.

Francisco Fort Rehabilitation Project Out for Bid

DSC_0452.JPGOur Francisco Fort Museum Adobe Project is officially released for bid. There is a Contractor Pre-bid walk through next Wednesday (8/29). For interested contractors please RSVP to Laurie Erwin and request the documents:
Phone: (719) 742-3631
Francisco Fort was a trading post founded by Colonel John Francisco in 1862 (Back when Colorado was still a Territory). It is the last surviving adobe fort in the State and now houses the Francisco Fort Museum.
The rehabilitation project is funded in part by a grant through State Historical Fund. The project includes adobe repairs, restoration of wood windows and doors, structural repairs, the reconstruction of missing chimneys and installation of new roofing. Here are some more before photos.

A Surprise Visitor

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots – Marcus Garvey

Yesterday started as just your typical sunny and beautiful Colorado day. I was doing a fieldwork double-stop to wrap up some drawings for our Metzger Farm and Braly Barn projects.

Metzger Farm, which sits just north of 120th Avenue between Lowell and Federal Blvd, was my first stop. As I started walking over to the site, via the remaining original driveway, I noticed a couple in front of me walking slowly with their elderly dog.

The husband turned right to get onto the walking path and said something to the effect of “catch you in a minute” as the woman kept walking straight towards the gate. I was only a few steps behind her and as I reached to unlock the gate, I said something to the effect of “hi there, how’s your day?”.

She informed me that she was the granddaughter of the Metzger family! I was so surprised and invited her to come walk around inside the fence with me to look at the buildings and talk about the project. Her husband and their dog walked back over to join us. They had come to take him on his final walk before heading to his vet appointment, which was very heartbreaking. But they told me that they brought him to the open space often and that it was one of his favorite places.

She pointed out where her grandmother had a huge rose garden and she was able to tell me exactly where the dinner bell once sat. We will be reinstalling it as part of the project and there was documentation of which side of the house it once sat, but she was able to point out the exact spot.

After a few minutes walking around, they continued on their walk on the open space trail, but knowing her grandparent’s home would be getting some much needed restoration seemed to brighten their day a little and it certainly brightened mine.

The Metzger family wanted the land to remain open space and the Broomfield-Westminster Open Space Foundation was formed to manage the property jointly between the two Cities. Looking past the open space on all sides and seeing new buildings definitely offers some levity to the importance of preserving historic views and contexts in addition to buildings. Knowing the surrounding fields with walking paths throughout will remain a public asset is uplifting as Colorado continues to change.

John Metzger purchased the 320 acre property in 1943, a year before marrying his wife Betty Amen Metzger. John had a multitude of interesting careers through his life. He was a successful lawyer, entrepreneur and politician. He operated a museum, owned a mine and during World War II, he worked in a munitions factory.

He started the farm to raise dairy cattle, but then began breeding registered Scotch Shorthorn cattle. John named it Loch-in-Vale Farm meaning “Lake in the Valley”. The lake, which sits on the south-side of the collection of farm buildings, was excavated when John worked with Colorado State University testing agricultural crops. The pond is stocked and each year the Foundation hosts a Kids’ Fishing Derby.

Our project includes an exterior restoration of the Metzger farmhouse and many of the out-buildings on-site. The Foundation hopes to have tours of the property and provide interpretation. We are excited to have made the connection with the Metzger’s granddaughter and will be keeping her informed about the project progress.

Exciting New Extracurriculars at Form+Works

Summer is quickly coming to a close and we’ve enjoyed a bustling schedule of fieldwork in some of the most beautiful areas of Colorado. Beyond work, the Form+Works Partners have all taken new volunteer positions:

Jessica was elected as the President of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Association of Preservation Technology (RMC-APT). RMC-APT is a regional chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology International (APTI) and is a non-profit organization that focuses on and promotes training and sharing of information related to preservation science and technology. The RMC-APT Chapter organizes and hosts social, educational and training events and the Chapter encompasses Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.

Jane was elected to the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Board (CCAB). The CCAB was created within the Colorado Department of Education and is composed of nine members. The CCAB provides resources and programs for capital construction funding and technical assistance for school districts, traditional public schools, charter schools, BOCES, and the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind.

Natalie was elected to the Mapleton Public Schools Board of Education. The Mapleton Board is made up of five elected community volunteers who work to represent and lead the District. The board approves the district’s curriculum, instructional materials, and annual budget.

We will share more about our involvement as we settle into our new roles. We are very excited to serve each of these great organizations.

F+W Welcomes Teja

We have some exciting news here at Form+Works! At the beginning of May we welcomed a new member to our team, Teja Elam.


We thought a fun way for everyone to get to know Teja would be a Q&A:

  • How did you find your way to architecture?
    I have a deep rooted interest in art and design growing from a childhood surrounded by appreciation and experience of the arts. The idea of pursuing work in design and architecture began in high school. After completing my B.F.A. with an emphasis in industrial design, I moved to Colorado to continue my goal of a Master of Architecture. I began working in architecture in 2004. I have been fortunate to work in many project sectors including: historic, commercial, religious, multi-family, and custom home design.
  • What about historic preservation resonates with you?
    Preservation provides reflection of the past, wraps us in story and supplies a center to grow from. It is this warmth that sparks my passion for preservation. 
  • What kind of hobbies do you have?
    I enjoy spending time with my family, running and figure-drawing.
  • What type of architecture inspires you?
    I am inspired by National Park Service Rustic architecture or “Parkitecture” and mid-century design.
  • What is your favorite place in the world?
    My favorite place is anywhere with family and friends. 
  • What are some of your goals?
    I would like to serve others through assisting in the preservation of our shared story.Teja graduated with her Master of Architecture from the University of Colorado with her Certificate in Historic Preservation. In addition to having just entered her 14th year working in architecture, she worked for the Park Service providing historic research at Rocky Mountain National Park. She shares our love of Colorado and our deep passion for historic buildings. We are so fortunate that she has chosen to join us. Next time you are in the area, be sure to stop in to say hello!

Glasgow to Stirling

Travel Blog – Day 5

It was time to pack up and make my way to Stirling in anticipation of the start of the conference. I arrived around noon, dropped my bags off at the hotel and grabbed a baked potato for lunch. With Monday being a bank holiday, the Stirling center was bustling with shoppers and activity.

Not knowing exactly what there was to see, I just started heading upwards.

One of my first stops was the Church of the Holy Rude and what was the first thing I saw? Why none other than this sign advertising that the CSU Pueblo Concert and Chamber Choirs would be performing here the next weekend.

It is always fun to realize how small the world really is.

The Church of the Holy Rude is the only church in Scotland where a royal coronation was held. King James VI, the 13th month old son of Mary Queen of Scots, was crowned here. Later on our official tour of the City, we were told that there was a disparity at the Holy Rude between two of the priests. They decided to construct a wall across the center of the church, dividing into two.

It remained this way for over 300 years, when the feuds were resolved and the parishes rejoined into one. It makes for an interesting conservation discussion. Technically the building spent more time during its lifespan divided into two churches than it did as a single space. The decision to remove the wall and reopen the space is seen by some as less authentic than keeping the wall in place. In historic preservation we find ourselves thinking through some very interesting conundrums.

I walked through the graveyard and up onto a rock cropping where I could see up to Stirling Castle. There were fantastic views across the valley below. I knew we were touring Stirling Castle as part of the conference, so decided not to go inside.

The last stop for the day was a local pub that was hosting a fundraiser for child cancer. I could hear the live music from blocks away and made my way to check it out. Between the pubs and the streets there have been some seriously talented performers.

Clockwork Orange

Travel Blog – Day 4

Apologies for the hiatus, internet coverage has been a bit of a hassle and then my conservation conference began, dividing my attention. Let me finish off the last few days before the start of the conference:

The Glasgow Subway is the 3rd oldest in the world. It was completed in 1896. The book (and later the movie) “A Clockwork Orange” supposedly gave the subway system the nickname, due to the circular route of the system and that the cars and stations have plenty of orange.

For 1 ½ pounds, one can ride the system to the various sections of the City. I decided I needed to check it out. The unique aspect of the system is the height of the cars. I had to duck to get in, but after I sat down the dimensions were not an issue. Within a few minutes I was back on the west end. I wandered over to Glasgow University to check out the Campus.

I had to take a few close-up photos of the unique operable windows. I love metal windows.

I walked by the McMillan reading room, designed by T. Harold Hughes and David Stark Reid Waugh, was built in the 1930s.

Again more great metal windows.

Walking by the row homes adjacent to the campus, I was captivated by all the fantastic blossoming trees. It has been such a perfect time to be here.

My next stop was the Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

The Kibble Palace was relocated to the grounds in 1872 from the home of John Kibble. John Kibble seems like a fantastically interesting character.

The son of a metal and wire merchant, Kibble was born into a great deal of wealth. However he was an inventor and entrepreneur. His first claim to fame was the retailing of zebra shawls for women. Queen Victoria wore a zebra shawl, making them all the rage.

Later Kibble invented one of the biggest cameras in the world; with a 13 inch diameter lens, it was so large it had to be transported on a horse-drawn cart. From the camera, negative plates measuring 44 x 36 inches could be created. After the Palace was relocated to the gardens, Kibble commissioned an adjacent building where he projected his large scale slides for the public.

Another of his unique sounding inventions was the aquatic velocipede, a bicycle fitted with flotation and paddle wheels. He apparently cycled across Loch Long. What an interesting fellow.

As a last stop of the day I popped in at Kelvin Hall to check out the National Library of Scotlands’ Moving Image Archive. It serves as a location for research, but there is a fun informational area with some history and examples of some of their collections.

This was the view down to the Kelvingrove Museum from Glasgow University.

The Glass of Glasgow

Travel Blog – Day 3

I made myself a long list of potential stops for my third day in Glasgow but I had no real idea how many I could get to. Turns out, almost all of them.

First I wanted to check out St. Mungo’s Cathedral, which is the oldest area of Glasgow. The stained glass windows of St. Mungo’s are gorgeous and there is so much detail! Photographing inside a dark cathedral proved to be quite challenging and the photos couldn’t really capture the beauty of the dark stone offset by the flood of colorful light. But the one thing I thought was very cool is that each of the windows that had been restored incorporated a description, artist name and date in the glass at the bottom of each panel, giving visitors more information about the timeline of the building.

I walked across to the Necropolis, the cemetery connected to St. Mungo’s by a stone bridge. From the top, you can get some wonderful views of the City.

One of the intricate mausoleum’s.

Just next door to the Necropolis is Tennent’s Brewing. Although they offer free tours, it was still considered breakfast-time, so I thought better of it.

I made my way back to the People’s Palace and Winter Garden, which the bus passed by on their route. On the way there I found a few buildings that would be really cool to buy and restore. This one is an old school.

The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens holds a history museum in the stone building and the glass greenhouse is of course, the Winter Garden portion.

As grey as it has been the last few days, I have to say the glass roofs around Glasgow make for really beautiful spaces to be inside.

Walking back to City Center I checked out the “Homes for the Future” buildings that were designed for Glasgow’s 1999 “UK City of Architecture and Design” festival.

Next up the top of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Lighthouse. The building was originally built for the Glasgow Herald and is now Scotland’s Center for Design and Architecture.

The hike up the spiral stair is rewarded with some great views around the City.

Then I hussled over to the City Chambers Building for their afternoon free tour. The architect, William Young, had spent a great deal of time in the Mediterranean, which was illustrated in the mosaic tile floors.

There were several species of wood throughout the rooms we toured, with connections to the countries of the British Empire. This one is of course mahogany coming from Africa.

So many beautiful skylights throughout the building.

This is the largest Carrera marble staircase in Europe (extending one story higher than that of the Vatican).

My last stop of the day was the Willow Tea Room on Buchanan Street, with recreated portions of details from Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Tea Rooms that he originally designed for Catherine Cranston. The original tea rooms were updated over the years and then later were closed. It was bustling, so I decided not to stay for tea, but I was able to take a look.

After about 8 miles of walking I was quite knackered, as they say here. So I made my to the tallest movie theater in the world, Cineworld, to catch a movie. It was a nice way to end the day. FYI nachos at the movie theater are quite different in the UK and I found myself wishing I had just stuck with traditional popcorn. Live and learn!