Winter Park Balcony House

Year Listed: 2021
County: Grand
Construction Date: 1955
Threat When Listed: Demolition and neglect
Status: ALERT

Winter Park’s original base area ski lodge, known as the Balcony House, vividly represents the early history and pioneering evolution of the City of Denver’s first Mountain Park, while also fostering groundbreaking developments in the Colorado ski industry as a whole.  Since 1955, the Balcony House has played an essential role in skiing, snowboarding and summer activities, and in enhancing the overall experience of visitors, including “non-skiers and sightseers” as the marketing efforts have proclaimed for years.

The Balcony House was designed by Stephen Bradley, the first director of the Winter Park Recreational Association (WPRA), who also invented the first ski packing and grading device in the United States.  The two-story Balcony House, with its panoramic views from cascading balconies, is a unique example of Mid-century Modern architecture.  The Balcony House was one of America’s very first passive solar ski lodges and its style captured America’s fascination with futuristic designs and the coming space age. 

A 2009 Master Plan for the base area of the ski resort calls for its demolition and replacement with 5-6 stories of condominiums above one level of resort operations.  Advocates for preservation think a better way can be found to accommodate future growth on the same footprint, without sacrificing the Balcony House. Listing the Winter Park Balcony House on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places will raise awareness of its historical importance within the Denver Mountain Park System and ski industry as a whole, build on its historic, unique marketing and thematic appeal, and enhance the building for future generations.  Listing on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places is intended to be a catalyst for further discussions with the Alterra Mountain Company, developers of the ski resort, about how we can work together to preserve the Winter Park Ski Area’s most important building.

“Winter Park has carefully differentiated itself through its long history of authenticity unlike other, much younger, Colorado resorts that would have guests believe that Colorado skiing started after WWII with roots in Bavaria.  Not Winter Park.  Our identity is genuine.”

James G. Johnson, AIA, Reinventing Our Balcony House

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