So, I was at first a little put-off that the Poudre Landmarks Foundation chose the Sheely Drive neighborhood for its 26th Annual Historic Homes Tour. For heaven’s sake, some of those houses are no older than I am. But I was won over by the idea of “Retro Revival.” Retro…it’s the cool without the kitsch, the timeless without the tacky. It’s Jackie Kennedy and a vodka gimlet. It’s the driving force behind the popularity of the show Mad Men (which I’ve never seen, but is now on my Netflix queue).
And, believe me, retro is alive and well on Sheely Drive.
The tour showcased six homes in the neighborhood, which received the “Sheely Drive Neighborhood Local Landmark District” designation in 2000. Photographs were not allowed, so close your eyes and imagine huge picture windows, open staircases, exposed-beam ceilings, abundant use of circular motifs, pastel bathtubs, and even an original General Electric wall-mount refrigerator. (But what about the shag carpeting? you ask. Not in these homes, bub.)
The surrounding area is no longer farmland, of course, but many of the homes still provide amazing views of Horsetooth and the foothills. The homeowners I talked to were incredibly gracious—you’d have to be to allow droves of strangers to tramp through your house in blue booties—and obviously value the character of their homes a great deal.
I wondered, as I drove away, why I felt so nostalgic over a trip down a memory lane I don’t even really remember. I decided it’s because nostalgia fixes us in time, which otherwise feels so fast and fluid. It lets us claim a little bit of ownership over something we consider worthy. It gives us a place to call home (unless, as in this case, it happens to be someone else’s home. Too bad for me.).
As a post-script to the Sheely Neighborhood, I toured the Block 700 Maple Street homes, which are By Design Homes’ fresh spin on Old Town living. These new constructions echo the modern sensibilities of the Sheely High-Ranch Style homes. While those homes reflected post-WWII prosperity, however, the Maple Street homes emphasize a new appreciation for minimalist efficiency. They’re open and stylish, without an inch of wasted space. I hope these homes are a sign of things to come. More “green,” less to clean. What’s not to love?
If you did the Retro Revival tour, I’d love it if you’d share your thoughts.
My dad had a 1966 T-Bird like this one