Local arts maven Kathleen Fox Collins takes us on a tour of what is certainly one of the most interesting and unusual homes in Colorado Springs. It was designed in the 1950s by the husband-and-wife architectural team of Gordon Ingraham and Elizabeth Wright Ingraham(Granddaughter of Frank Lloyd Wright) for the Mitguard family near the bluffs in Palmer Park. While the structure itself is an interesting example of local mid-20th Century modernism, it’s the truly bizarre finish work inside and outside that gives the home its amazing character.

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26 Responses to A Seriously Curious House

  1. H-S says:

    Thank you for the tour – it was very entertaining and interesting. ‘Truly bizarre finish work’ is not an overstatement. We are lucky that the house is in the hands of an appreciative caretaker;I’m entertained by the fact that she can respect the original house and at the same time recognize that some things are just perplexing – the ‘reptile cages’ and odd cubbies and finish work that get to stay in place, but with a chuckle, are good examples.

  2. Deborah Thornton says:

    What a treat! Thanks Kathleen (and Noel) for sharing this fascinating space. Another great example of the deep legacy of creativity in this region.

  3. What a great house with such originality! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Nancy Wilsted says:

    A treasure for a treasure, if you ask me!

  5. Christine Chiacchia says:

    How much fun! Great to see your face Kathleen, if only on video.

  6. Liz Arnold says:

    Thank you Kathleen for the tour of your wonderful home! You are right – people DO love being in your home – it is the the perfect home for entertaining, and is all the more enhanced by your beautiful artwork and belongings! Thanks Noel and Kathleen!

  7. Rolfy1 says:

    that is a great house! love it.

  8. Another great video. As a realtor, I found this one very interesting. Thanks so much

  9. tobi says:

    Truly a special spot in Colorado Springs. We are lucky to have had Elizabeth Wright Ingraham living here and sharing Mr. Wright’s inovative and wonderous ideas

  10. Marina Eckler says:

    Geez Kathleen and Noel, this was fun. I love this house! I grew up in a Greene & Greene brothers replica in southern California and recognize some of the themes from the Arts and Crafts era, like the long eaves (I’ve read that G&G were influenced by Japanese buildings they saw at the world’s fair- the eaves allow winter sun and block summer sun, ideal for southwestern homes) and the custom cabinetry I think is taken from the “ultimate bungalows” trend in Pasadena. And then there’s so much that’s unique and fascinating about this house, it’s so special. Never seen anything quite like it.
    I wonder what is up with the cobweb catchers on the exterior?? Do you know why they did that? Were they cut-outs left over from making something else in the house?
    Thanks for the tour, Kathleen!

  11. Noel Black says:

    Marianne, we’d love to know if you come across other great homes like Kathleen’s that we could profile. Thanks!

  12. Susan says:

    Another great Big Something. We are lucky that our city has someone like Kathleen who knew this special place needed love and preservation. (And it’s a killer home for parties!)

  13. Dave Mills says:

    You just keep coming up with outstanding stuff, Noel. Thanks.

  14. Clem says:

    Loved the tour and it’s great to hear your voice and your pride (and wonder) about this remarkable house.

  15. Rob says:

    Amazing! Thanks for doing these wonderful home tours. They are a treat.

  16. susan rice says:

    Dear Kata, thank you for sending this on to me. so many details that I have walked right by. One wonders what was going on in the mind of the designer?? She found craftsmen to do excdeptional work. they jmust have wondered also. Good photography, good light, and a perfect home you.

  17. Jim says:

    It is good that this house has come into the ownership of someone who appreciates the uniqueness of the building. It appears as if Elizabeth Wright Ingraham inherited a great deal of her grandfather’s ability to design wonderful, if not always practical or well built houses. I wonder if the roof ever leaked.

  18. Fantastic house! I have a great idea as what to do to enhance/control the light in the living room area.

  19. suesun says:

    Having been there only once, this narrated tour helped me to appreciate it even more. I would have loved to have seen the indoor “greenhouse” area before! Thanks for capturing a bit of history……….

  20. Sheri Bauers says:

    Please thank Kathleen for her generosity in sharing a house that obviously has been a source of wonder, awe and pride for her! So absolutely unique. I love architecture and Elizabeth’s examples are largely private spaces, so I totally appreciate a homeowner sharing theirs with us!


  21. Eva says:

    great story. Fascinating house. Everything else has been said.

  22. Matt H says:

    “Built for the Mitguard family…” I suppose the next time I see the band The Mitguards who play around town frequently, i’ll ask Chris if that was his house. Neat piece, thank you.

  23. Jon Mitguard says:

    Wow, what a surprise to come across this piece. 2720 has gone through so many transitions perhaps beginning with the addition of the basement in 1956 because the third boy (me) was coming. I believe it was built in 1950 and was a single story 2ish bedroom with a car port where you now have a dining room.

    I won’t go into the whole history but I’d like to clarify a few details. The main omission in this story is that practically all the built in wood work, including the kitchen, guest bedrooms, and wild siding was designed and built by Don Vail, my step father. He was a practicing architect and model maker in CS but in retirement he totally transformed that house beginning in the 80s. As you found there was nothing untouched and not much space left open. Don built pretty much all of the built in features you point out including the Address feature. He was unconventional and was into unconventional materials, Don tried out lots of things, he liked ply wood and used very high grade ply, “The same they use in Highway signs” he’d tell me”. He also had an incredible leaning to create very detailed and time consuming features that most of us wouldn’t even dream of much less execute with countless hours with a jig saw. Again Don Vail built nearly everything that was pointed out in the video.

    It was Don’s mission to try and reunify the house after couple other additions that had been done with out the benefit of cohesive design. Over all he did a great job and he created some really fun imaginative spaces. I am not surprised you took out some of the built in features and am glad to see the living room opened up again. I am also glad you enjoy, and kept the guest room as is, it is pure Don Vail down to the last detail. By the way that material is Cork laminated on plywood and finished with Varathane and polished (unconventional again). Many of the other details you attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright are to me, classic Don Vail. He would be the first to admit the FLW influence, but he made that influence his own for sure.

    The first frame of the video shows the West elevation where the Room just to the right of the exquisite peaked feature is one of the above mentioned additions done the 60s. We always called this the “new room” and it was completely left out of the filming. It never fit with the design of the house but we used it a lot. Don’s goal was to finally bring that portion into harmony with the rest and he literally worked on the plans for this right until his passing in 2000.
    Kathleen Thank you for loving the house; I am very moved to see this and get to go through it again.

  24. Cole Mitguard says:

    That is amazing, I spent a couple summers here as a kid, I remember one summer I got a horrible stomach flu and I spent a week or so sequestered in the “Captains Room” downstairs, haha, it was my favorite room in the house. I guess I never realized how unique this house was… probably due to my young age, but thank you so much for creating this video, It was truly a blast from the past.

  25. Jon Mitguard says:

    Now I have to correct my own comment. The house was built in 1956. I was built in 1957. The basement was added later but not much. It had three rooms and a bathroom back then. Don Vail completely gutted these to make the “captains room” and the other bedroom as well as reconfiguring the bathroom.

    I also wanted to point out another innovative feature of the original home. There are Heat registers at the perimeter of the living room in the window sills. the ducts going to these are channeled through the slab floor which creates a warm floor.

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