Saturday, November 6, 2010

Architect Jacques Benedict Design on Market

Jacques Benedict (1879-1948) was a society architect.  His clients were among the upper crust of early-twentieth-century Denver society and Benedict was a member of that group himself. As an architect he created a body of work that exhibited impeccable good taste.
1300 East Seventh Avenue, Denver, CO

The house is located right on the street,
but has large, private gardens in the rear.

One of those designs at 1300 East Seventh Avenue in Denver is currently on the market.  Originally constructed in 1923, the property has been extensively renovated by the current owners, Bob and Jane Nettleton. The interior is not an historic restoration.  Everything--from kitchen to bathrooms--is new. With a Benedict design, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Benedict's architecture was really about the exterior. Unlike some of his famous contemporaries (Neutra, Wright, Goff, for examples), Benedict seemed unconcerned with spatial sequencing, volume, or inventive spaces.  The room layouts in every Benedict home I've visited are not particularly adventuresome.  In fact, they seem deployed only to allow windows and walls to serve the exterior appearance of the design. And what great exteriors they are! Benedict's architecture was created from outside/in, rather than inside/out.  While Benedict's contemporaries were exploring new spatial relationships on the frontiers of modern design, Benedict was content to create exquisite visions for the traditional gentry. He is a pure product of his l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts education in Paris. He (along with Temple Hoyne Buell) moved in the upper echelons of Denver society and was among the last of the old-school gentleman architects.
French Renaissance Chateau?

This house on Seventh Avenue is among the best of Beneict's exteriors. Long and elegant, it is described as "French Renaissance Chateau." I don't know what that means. What Benedict really did with this house (as with all of his successful designs) is take bits and pieces of historic design elements and arrange them in completely original ways. His talent was using classic features and creating something completely original. He was able to accomplish this successfully because he had a flawless sense of proportion and scale.
Alley and service entrance.

Even though the main attraction of this property is the exterior, one unique characteristic of the plan enlivens the interior:  the house is only one room deep.   Built on a relatively shallow lot, the clever layout introduces ample light into every space.  Some rooms, like the master bedroom and living room, have light from three sides. This introduces an extraordinary quality into what would otherwise be quite ordinary spaces.  The updated colors complement the overall feeling of brightness and light. A semi-circular conservatory on the main floor and a sitting room above it also introduce an upbeat atmosphere that is rare in homes of this period.

Irterested buyers can follow the realtor's link for more information:  If you want to know more about Jules Jacques Benois Benedict click on his link.

Photos:  M. Knorr

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