In late 2021 the City Government recently the demolition of Harvest House Hotel buildings to clear the path for a huge development of student housing, apartment blocks. The City process didn’t include the normal dialogue with the public about the destruction of such a sizeable and important property. Historic Boulder is advocating that the City government not be so hasty to demolish the Harvest House Hotel when preserving it can fulfill many of the great values that we profess to hold so dear here in Boulder.
The Harvest House has historic, social, architectural and environmental significance.
Historic: This building has been the setting for 60 years of community-building activities. For most of its life it has served as the number 1 place in town for many important business and cultural conferences. How many startup companies began over a lunch here? Of secondary historical note is the fact it was the only place in town that served alcohol for at least a decade.
Social: Until the emergence of the popularity of the Pearl Street Mall in the mid 1980’s, the Harvest
House was the social hub for Boulder activities. These have included celebrations galore; banquets
for community organizations and businesses, CU game-day events, weddings, and the famous Friday Afternoon Clubs. As Boulder and American society evolved from the 1950’s to the 1990’s the Harvest House progressed too, expanding its entertainment and athletic activities.
Architectural: The building is one of the best examples of the International Style of the Modern Movement of architecture design in Boulder. The characteristics of this design are the sweeping horizontal lines of balconies, sun shading, and ribbons of windows, it’s curving floor plans that emphasize the sweep of the south façade, and the use of local sandstone which gives the building a regional flavor. It’s an exemplar of innovation.
Environmental: Tearing it all down is environmentally devastating. In terms of sustainable design, the greenest building is one that has already been built. Demolishing it would contribute to global warming by tossing out all the embodied energy and releasing greenhouse, carbon gases into the atmosphere. While Historic Boulder recognizes the important value to Boulder of adding much needed housing, why couldn’t the existing building, or a portion of it, be incorporated in the new development?
Yes, the Harvest House has aged in recent years, but a building with these values; historical, social, architectural, and environmental, shouldn’t end up in a land fill. It can have a new life. The building
could be repurposed as apartments for students and for working class people like our teachers, first responders and young business workers.
It’s not too late to re-evaluate the proposed housing development and find a ‘win-win’ design that incorporates a portion of the legacy property. The Harvest House Hotel has been important in shaping Boulder as we know it today. Let’s honor its contributions to the spirit of Boulder and work together to revitalize it.