Vance Kirkland Studio Building History

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A short history of the 1910 Arts & Crafts building used as a studio by Henry Reid, and later by Vance Kirkland. The studio is part of Kirkland Museum

A short history of the 1910 Arts & Crafts building used as a studio by Henry Reid, and later by Vance Kirkland. The studio is part of Kirkland Museum

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  • 1. KIRKLAND’S HISTORIC STUDIO BUILDINGBuilt 1910–1911: Denver’s oldest commercial art building; 2ndoldest inColorado, after the Van Briggle Memorial Pottery building in ColoradoSpringsArchitectural style: Arts & CraftsArchitects: Maurice Biscoe and Henry HewittEnglish born artist Henry Read (1847-1935) commissioned architects Maurice B. Biscoe(c.1872-1953) and Henry H. Hewitt (c.1875-c.1955) to construct 1311 Pearl Street tohouse his Students’ School of Art. Biscoe originally came to Denver to supervise theconstruction of Saint John’s Episcopal Cathedral (14th& Washington, begun in 1904).Although both were trained in the Beaux-Arts style, the Pearl Street building is in anArts and Crafts style. Among the best known of the Biscoe and Hewitt collaborationsare the Clayton College for Boys (32nd& Colorado, 1909-11) and the Helen Bonfilshome (707 Washington Street).Mr. Read was one of the thirteen founding members of the Artists’ Club (1893) whichlater became the Denver Art Museum (1923). Kirkland recounted that Read and othermembers used their homes and the Pearl Street building for meetings of the Artists’Club/Denver Art Association from 1911 until 1922 when this organization was deededChappell House (1300 Logan, razed 1970).The University of Denver appointed Vance Kirkland of Ohio (1904-1981) director ofthe Chappell School of Art in January of 1929. However, in 1932, Kirkland left theUniversity because it would not give full academic degree credit for their art courses.He rented and later purchased the building at 1311 Pearl Street and started the KirklandSchool of Art (1932-46) with classes accredited by the University of Colorado beginningin 1933. The Kirkland School of Art was highly successful, and in 1946, the University ofDenver enticed Kirkland to return with a salary equal to the University Chancellor.Kirkland again became director of the School of Art on the University campus. Hisseveral hundred students followed him there. When Kirkland finally left the Universityin 1969, his was the University’s largest undergraduate school with 400 majors. From1932 until his death in 1981, Kirkland used 1311 Pearl Street as his personal studio.The entire Pearl Street building was built with northern facing skylight windows forpainting by natural light. The twelve, original ribbed, chicken wire, glass windows havebeen saved in the workroom, while the first two rooms have newer, smooth, chickenwire glass. Behind the original building was a garden and outhouse with no runningwater. One had to go out the back door and across the garden to enter the outhouse./mnt/temp/unoconv/20130615201430/studiohistory-130615151430-phpapp01.doc
  • 2. Each of the three main rooms had a coal and wood burning stove for heating. Therewas no electricity in the first two rooms and the hallway. Only the third and last room(Kirkland’s workroom) had some minimal electrical lighting (one or two Art Decochandeliers). Gaslights lit the front exterior and each room had a gaslight fixture. Also,many candlesticks and oil lamps were used. This was a true bohemian existence in themiddle of Denver. The three lions on the front of Vance Kirkland Studio were acquiredabout 1950 when the Flatiron Building (16th& Court Place) was remodeled, and theywere added to Kirkland’s studio in 1980. The lions were originally made by the DenverBrick and Terra Cotta Company circa 1900.Kirkland died in May 1981. Since Kirkland’s wife had already died and they had nochildren, family friend Hugh Grant became executor of the estate. Kirkland Foundationwas established in 1996 to preserve the works of Vance Kirkland and the othercollections. Grant has continued to do exhibitions, hold the collection together, andfurther build upon it. In April 2003 the Kirkland Museum opened to the public,displaying the works of Kirkland, his Colorado colleagues, and 20th-century decorativeart.In 2002, a 9400 sq. ft. addition to the original building was completed. This addition wasbuilt to the immediate South of the original art school and studio building. It uses brickclosely matching the original building, as does the exterior and interior design. Thearchitects were (Richard) Chip Melick, Jr. (born 1956) and Rachel Lawrence (born 1969)of Melick and Associates, Inc./mnt/temp/unoconv/20130615201430/studiohistory-130615151430-phpapp01.doc