Genesee Mountain, Colorado
The Sculptured House is Colorado's most famous residence designed by an architect no one knows. This has always bothered me. In my opinion, the Sculptured House is one of the greatest architectural structures in Colorado. There is no other building, residential or commercial, that elicits such a strong response from both Coloradans and visitors alike. The house is simply, cool. It literally wraps around you like a blanket and that is exactly how I felt when I was there. From the curved walls to its expansive Colorado views, the Sculpture House feels and looks amazing both inside and out.
If you're like me, you grew up passing by the Sculptured House located high up Genesee Mountain as you drove I70 below. I didn't grow up in Colorado, but my family visited every year and I was always excited to get a glimpse of the "spaceship" house. Architecture interested me very early on, and the Sculpture House was a favorite.
A few years a go I had the exciting and special opportunity to do a couple different photo shoots at the house for Modern Christmas Trees. The current owners were friendly and hospitable to us as we took over their Landmark home for our photo shoot. Thankfully, they have invested in the much needed restoration efforts to modernize the house and make it livable. For several reasons, the structure wasn't completed to be inhabited. The current owners had to respond to water leakage and insulation issues. They even replaced all the windows with heated glass, no small investment I would imagine.
But, the real reason I am writing this post is to recognize Charles Deaton, the architect behind the house that no one knows. He was the man who courageously designed a sculpture that literally could be lived in. I have found that very few know anything about Deaton. For the marketer and advocate I am, this bothers me. Deaton designed something special with a story that includes it all: one man's dream, courage, risk, execution, failure, success and legacy.
Charles Deaton was a self trained architect; yes, you read that right, self trained. He dreamed up and designed the unconventional Sculptured House for himself and his family. He was quoted saying, "if people do not have angles then we should not live in boxes." So with that philosophy Deaton designed a house that broke all the rules. Deaton thoughtfully picked his location too, "On Genesee Mountain I found a high point of land where I could stand and feel the great reaches of the earth. I wanted the shape of it to sing an unencumbered song."
In 1963 Deaton made his first step in executing his dream and hired Delzell, Inc to build the house on an experimental permit. Sadly, Deaton ran out of money during the construction of the home and was never able to complete the interior and move in. I don’t know if Deaton did, but one could view this as failure. He never lived in his Sculpture house. The house sat empty for nearly three decades until 1999 when a Denver Entrepreneur purchased the home, completed it and became its first resident. The house changed hands in 2006 and then again in 2010 to its current owners, who are caring for Deaton's masterpiece accordingly.
As for Deaton, while he never lived in his Genessee Mountain Sculpture, he went on to create a significant career in architecture. He designed the two current in use Kansas City stadiums, Kauffman and Arrowhead, two modernist banks, furniture, lighting and some board games that reached commercial success. He died in 1996 near his Sculpture House in Morrison, Colorado at the age of 75.
Deaton may have never lived in his Sculpture House, but it has been famous for years. It became internationally recognized after appearing in the Woody Allen's 1973 film, "Sleeper," and has been fascinating passing by motorists ever since. But no one knows Deaton. I have tried to learn more about Deaton and its tough. There has been very little written about him. I'll admit, I have not researched beyond some online searches, but some day I would like to take the time to learn more and dedicate more photos and words to a man that has inspired me.
Deaton's story is a story of the creative entrepreneur. He didn't let rules, lack of formal education, get in his way. He had dreams, a vision, went for them and left a legacy of amazing architecture that is admired and used today.
Next time you drive i70 and look up to see the Sculpture House, you will now know a little about the man behind it, a self trained architect and entrepreneur named Charles Deaton.
© JC Buck