Other Finding Aid :For location information, refer to the Denver Public Library Catalog.
Donor and date of donation for some of the materials is unknown. John J. Higgins donated the plans for the J. G. Kerr house on September 10, 2005. Acquisition of Benedict's lithographic prints was through a library purchase in summer 2008. Additional lithographic prints were transferred from the DPL art collection in April 2010. This project was partially funded by a State Historical Fund grant award from History Colorado, the Colorado Historical Society
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[Identification of item], J. B. Benedict Architectural Records, WH1520, Western History Collection, The Denver Public Library.
Oversize: 6 file folders, 1 box (1 linear foot)
February 2009, April 2010
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE :
Jules Jacques Benois Benedict was a noted and prolific Denver, Colorado based architect who was known during his lifetime as Julius, Julius B., Jules, Jacques, "Jock," and finally J. B. He was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 22, 1879 to Martha M. Bessnoit (b.1851) and Bernhard M. Benedict (b.1850). His mother was originally from Saxon, Germany and his father was born in Austria. The couple had four children: Julius B. (1879-1948), Elsa B. (ca.1881-?), Herbert B. (1882-1941), and Estella B. (ca.1884-?). Of the four children, only the two sons survived to adulthood. Bernhard Benedict worked as a successful clothing manufacturer and salesman. The family lived in relative comfort in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois with members of the family making occasional trips back to Europe, primarily Germany, in 1875 and 1889.
Between 1899-1902, J. B. Benedict worked with the noted Chicago based architectural firm of Charles S. Frost (1856-1932) and Alfred H. Granger (1867-1939). In the spring of 1903, he left for France to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts School of Architecture in Paris. Benedict returned from Paris with his mother aboard the New Amsterdam on August 6, 1906. He then joined the architectural firm of Carrére and Hastings in New York City where he worked until 1909.
In 1909, Benedict moved to Denver, Colorado where his brother, Herbert had already been working as a civil engineer since 1907. Benedict established his architectural office in the Ernest and Cranmer building at 17th and Curtis Streets. His first Denver commission, the Sunken Garden Pavilion (1910), now demolished, was located in a park near West High School. The Central National Bank Building (1910-1911), originally located at the corner of Arapahoe and 15th Street was his first commercial commission. Benedict's designs for the structure were executed in association with his former employers from Chicago, Frost and Granger. This building is arguably that firm's final work because the two architects dissolved their partnership in 1910. When completed, Benedict moved his architectural office to the new building and remained there for a number of years. Later, he moved his office to another commercial building he designed, the Flatiron Building (1923), once located at 1669 Broadway.
Between 1910 and 1943, Benedict designed numerous homes, churches and public buildings in Boulder, Denver, Evergreen, Golden, Littleton and in rural Douglas and Jefferson counties. Benedict's architectural style was based on his Beaux Arts training, with stylistic and decorative influences derived from French Provincial, Italianate, Gothic and Mediterranean designs. Many of his extant buildings are listed on the National Register, State Register or designated as Denver Local Landmarks.
Included among his public commissions are the Denison Arts and Sciences Building (1912, University of Colorado, Boulder); Roger W. Woodbury Branch Library (1912, Denver); Carnegie Library (1917, Littleton); Town Hall (1920, Littleton) and Rosedale Elementary School (1924, Denver). Benedict also focused a great deal of his time on church and religious architecture. His architectural style adapted well to the creation of religious buildings, such as First Church of Divine Science (1922, Denver); St. Andrews Episcopal Church (1928, Denver); First Presbyterian Church (ca.1930, Littleton). Although an Episcopalian, he was hired by the Denver archdiocese of the Catholic Church as their resident architect and designed: St. Joseph's Catholic Church Rectory (1923, Denver); Saint Thomas Theological Main Seminary Building (1926-1931, Denver); St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church, Cloisters Prayer Garden and Monastery (1936, Denver); and the Holy Ghost Catholic Church (1943, Denver).
Important examples of Benedict's residential work include: Herman Coors House (1912, Golden); George Cranmer House (1917, Denver); Malo Mansion (1921, Denver); Richtofen Castle (1924, Denver); Weckbaugh House (1930-1933, Denver). Multi-faceted, he also designed external multi-use structures in rural Douglas and Jefferson counties: Bergen Park Pavillion (1913, Evergreen); Chief Hosa Lodge (1917, Genessee Park); Dedisse Park Clubhouse (1925, Evergreen); Echo Lake Park Lodge (1926, Idaho Springs); Baehr Lodge (1927, Pine); Summit Lake Park Shelter (n.d., Idaho Springs). Benedict was also commissioned by John Brisben Walker, publisher of Cosmopolitan magazine to design a Western White House at Mount Falcon near Morrison, Colorado. The structure was partially completed when it was hit by lightning in 1918. Remnants of the foundation can still be found at Mount Falcon Park.
Benedict refused to join the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and opposed the Allied Architects Association formed by 39 of his colleagues to design the Denver City and County Building. Yet, he personally raised $4,000 to help defray the costs of building the Roger W. Woodbury Branch Library (1912), donated a children's wading pool and fountain to the City of Denver (ca.1931) and provided the decorative wrought iron lanterns on the Littleton City Hall (1920) when funds were not available.
Benedict was married to the socially connected June Louise Brown (1883-1945) in Denver on February 20, 1912. The couple later divorced. June Benedict was the daughter of a wealthy mercantile owner, Junius Flagg Brown. To complement Benedict's lithographs of architectural fantasies, usually sent to friends at Christmas, June Benedict wrote poetry and also signed her work as J. B. B. or J. B. Benedict. The couple had two children: Peter N. Benedict (1914-1983) and an adopted daughter, Ursula Benedict McPhee (1920-1949). The family lived on a 90-acre parcel of land in Littleton that had originally been part of the Gallup ranch. The Benedicts' large mansion, once known as Wyndmere Farm, remains at the intersection of West Caley Avenue and South Datura Street. It is currently used as a convent for the Carmelite Order. Although a lifelong Episcopalian, during his final illness Benedict converted to Catholicism before his death in Denver on January 16, 1948. J. B. Benedict is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE :
The collection contains a sampling of Benedict's commercial and residential design work with plans dating from the beginning of his architectural practice in Denver in 1910 through 1929. These plans provide an opportunity to evaluate Benedict during his formative and more productive design periods. Included are two sets of commercial designs for the Central National Bank Building (1910) and the Roger W. Woodbury Branch Library of the Denver Public Library (1912), with residential designs for George Cranmer (1916), J. G. Kerr (1924), Richard C. Campbell (1924) and Harold Ingersol (1929). Sometime before his death, Benedict burned many of his original drawings and architectural plans. The architectural materials in this collection comprise original `or copies of blueprints.
A group of eight original lithographic prints executed by Benedict and distributed to friends and family as cards during the Christmas holidays in 1918, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932 completes the collection. In conjunction with these prints are copies of poems written by his wife, June B. Benedict.
SERIES 1 ARCHITECTURAL PLANS - COMMERCIAL 1910-1912 OVFF 1, 2, 6 :
The series contains a set of original blueprints (1910) for the Central National Bank Building designed in association with the architectural firm of Frost and Granger, Chicago, Illnois. Once located at the corner of 15th Street and Arapahoe, the structure was demolished in the 1989 after preservation efforts failed to find a suitable reuse for the building.
An additional set of original blueprints for the Italian Renaissance style Roger W. Woodbury Branch Library (1912) is included. Still in use as a branch library of the Denver Public Library, the structure was sensitively enlarged with an addition on the rear or west side by architect Oluf N. Nielsen in 1965-1966. These changes have preserved the library's front and side facades and the building's orientation on Federal Boulevard as conceived by Benedict. The building is listed on the National Register as part of the Highland Park Historic District.
Information for each set of blueprints includes: drawing title, scale, size, material, and date. The plans are listed in their original order based on drawing number. Only original blueprints or copies of original blueprints are available.
SERIES 2 ARCHITECTURAL PLANS - RESIDENTIAL 1916-1929 OVFF 3-5 :
This series contains four sets of residential architectural plans designed for George Cranmer (1916), J. G. Kerr (1924), Richard C. Campbell (1924) and Harold Ingersol (1929). Benedict was well known for his residential designs and as of 2009, all of the residences are still in existence. The Kerr house has been designated a local landmark. The Campbell residence has been listed on the National Register and currently houses the executive offices for the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Some of the sets of plans are incomplete or contain only portions or sketches of the original designs. Individual sets include: project title and address (if available), drawing title, scale, size, material and date. The plans have been arranged in a similar manner for consistency by floor plans, elevations and cross sections or details. Only original blueprints or copies of original blueprints complete the series.
SERIES 3 ARTWORK 1918-1932 OVBOX 1 :
In the 1910s through the 1930s, J.B. Benedict created offset lithographs and sent copies to friends as gifts in the Benedict family Christmas cards. The images are architectural in nature, with the structures usually located in a mountain landscape. This series includes eight prints generated between 1918-1932. Some years the Christmas cards also contained poetry, such as "Pikes Peak," "Fantasy," and other untitled poems by his wife, June B. Benedict.
SUBJECT ACCESS :
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