Thursday, July 28, 2011

Denver: The Byers-Evans House

It’s not nearly as grand as Soapy’s mansion seen in A Fistful of Diamonds or Silky’s in The Day They Hanged Kid Curry, but if Heyes and Kid got their amnesty, and had successful, honest careers and decided to settle in Denver, perhaps they would live in a home similar to the Byers-Evans House. Built in 1883 by William Byers, who was the publisher of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News newspaper, the house is a wonderful example of a late nineteenth/early twentieth century home and its contents offer a window into how well-to-do citizens of the time lived.

The Byers family, and the Evans family to whom they sold the home in 1889, were prominent members of Denver society and the interior reflects their wealth and interests. Guided tours are given of the home and enhance the experience of a visit. Most but not all the furnishings are original to the home. According to the tour guide, green was a very popular color at this time (see photo above); walls were painted green, and trim and wallpaper also featured that color.

The interior of the Byers-Evans home is rather dim on the ground floor, perhaps because the furniture tended to be a heavy, dark wood or maybe it is to protect the furnishings from damage caused by the sun. The room off the main entrance exemplifies this very well (see photo at right). Lighting was originally by candle but eventually electricity was installed, as can be seen by the wall sconces over the piano. Although the house appears small in comparison to the buildings around it—it’s in a district where office buildings are now more prevalent than single family homes—that is deceptive because there are many rooms, of various sizes, inside the two-story building. The Evans family had four children and the three daughters lived in the home as adults (one returned after she was widowed). Bedrooms on the second floor are brighter and typically have dressing tables, bookcases, chairs, a closet, nightstands and small tables in them (see photo above).

There are two bathrooms; one is from the nineteenth century and the other was installed in the twentieth century. On the first floor, there is a large, well-appointed kitchen (see photo at right). Kid would never go hungry if he lived here! Note the stove and the icebox, which is the wooden box-like piece of furniture at the right in the photo.

A far cry from life on the trail, Heyes and Kid would certainly be very comfortable in a home like this!

Colorado Historical Society webpage about the house: