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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Preservation for a Changing Colorado

The 2017 update, Preservation for a Changing Colorado, resulted from a partnership between Colorado Preservation and History Colorado and Colorado Preservation, Inc. Prepared by Clarion Associates, the new report and accompanying website document the economic benefits of rehabilitation projects, analyzes property values and neighborhood stability in local historic districts, and summarizes the increasing impact of heritage tourism, private preservation development and the success of Colorado’s Main Street program. In a key finding, researchers found that for every $1 million spent on historic preservation in Colorado leads to $1.03 million in additional spending, 14 new jobs, and $636,700 in increased household incomes across the state! The 2017 report also considers the important role preservation plays in helping Coloradans provide new spaces for creative communities and co-working, create and sustain meaningful places, respond to the state’s changing demographics, and address climate concerns. Click Here to see the full report, "Preservation for a Changing Colorado".