Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Residence of former chancellor goes on market

Yearning for a 6,000-square-foot, five-bedroom, seven-bath property steeped in DU history?

You’re in luck. The residence of Chancellor Emeritus Dan Ritchie came on the market in late September and can be had for $4.3 million.

Initial showings, says listing agent Nancy Wolfe, have been good.

The University of Denver owns the house, which it received it as a gift from cable magnate Bill Daniels. He purchased it for Ritchie’s use a residence and a venue for entertaining donors, alumni, trustees and others.

“We always had receptions, dinners everything,” recalls Carolyn Foster, executive personal assistant to Ritchie since 1989.

In mid-October, Ritchie downsized to a condominium at Observatory Place, a new five-story project at 2200 S. University Blvd. Robert Coombe, the current chancellor, lives in the Buchtel Bungalow, a historic DU property on the corner of University Boulevard and East Evans Avenue, so the University elected to sell the Ritchie residence.

“To have three-quarters of an acre with that square footage in that neighborhood come up is a once-in-a-lifetime offer,” says Wolfe, a broker/owner with Fuller Town and Country Properties.

The home is at 515 Race St. in the upscale Country Club neighborhood. It comes with chauffeur’s quarters in an oversize three-car garage, a greenhouse and a large brick outbuilding for potting plants. It occupies a corner lot and is walking distance from the Cherry Creek shopping area.

The home boasts a furniture-finish, Old World-style kitchen, five fireplaces, leaded-glass windows, circular staircase, oak parquet floor and French doors to “an expansive lawn and terrace” with brick fireplace and grill.

“It would be a wonderful house for a family with children or someone who just wants privacy,” Wolfe says.

A mural by Vance Kirkland, who founded the DU School of Art in 1929, occupies about 60 square feet of wall space behind the bar in the music room. The colorful painting whimsically pairs the stages of human growth with the consumption of beverages — milk, pop, beer, champagne, whiskey and rum — while the devil and “the slab” await.

The two-story brick Tudor house was built in 1928 as the home of Arthur and Helen Johnson, whose charitable foundation since 1948 has granted more than $120 million to Colorado community, service, health and civic organizations.

Johnson was former president of the Argo Oil Corp., which he formed in 1932 and which became one of the top independent oil companies in the United States.

In 1929 the Johnsons doubled the size of the house with the help of pre-eminent Denver architect Burnham Hoyt, who designed Red Rocks Amphitheater, Denver Central Library, the Broadmoor Hotel addition and his own home at 3130 E. Exposition Ave.

As of early October, the house’s $4.3 million price tag made it the most expensive property among 81 active listings in Country Club, according to real estate data. A $5 million home on Franklin Street was under contract, and 78 homes were sold in the previous 12 months at prices peaking at $4.25 million.

“Since Labor Day, people have been cautious about making decisions and moving ahead — in all price points,” says Diane Huttner, a broker associate with Prestige Realty Group in Cherry Creek, who has sold houses in the neighborhood. “Country Club has always been special. But there are fewer people buying 3 and 4 million dollar homes and they have another choice — Bonnie Brae, Belcaro and Hilltop.

“When people spend over $2 million, they look at choices.”

Especially given the cost. The mortgage on a $4.3 million loan at 6.5 percent is about $35,521 a month.


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