One of the great aesthetic pleasures of Colorado Springs’ Westside is the dizzying array of brightly colored gingerbread in the eaves of many of its old Victorian-era homes (best appreciated by bicycle, we think). Some of these “Painted Ladies” are just mining shacks that might bristle at the suggestion that they might in any way be considered “ladies,” while others are fully restored grand dames. We went out to capture some of the gaudy (in the best sense!) colors that add to the Westside’s many charms.


11 Responses to Westside Gingerbread

  1. Carol says:

    Beautiful homes from a by-gone era when houses were built to endure and show pride of workmanship. I’m glad that folks are preserving these architectural treasures in our fair city. Thanks for taking the time to share these photos!

  2. Dave Hughes says:

    Somebody took a long time to find, then photograph, these 63 examples.

    Even more interesting to me, because 34 years ago the Westside was so run down the city declared it plagued by ‘Slum and Blight’ and thought it would have to demolish many of these faded, small, dilapidated ‘Victorians’ and replace them with some commercial structures or plants.

    That was when (1976) – after the city had demolished downtown the great Antlers Hotel and the world-class Burns Theater (which is still a parking lot) – a very few of us determined to save the westside – both residential and commercial – by using its history and historical architecture – modest as most homes and buildings were – to attract small, not large, businesses to occupy and restore the 35 EMPTY commercial buildings between 24th and 27th streets on West Colorado Avenue.

    The result is, today, restored the well known and much photographed ‘Old Colorado City’ National Historic District. But soon after, individuals and families started buying westside homes, fixing them up to include the neat architectural touches under the eves Noel Black has documented. A quiet revolution.

    Now any westsider can walk into the Old Colorado City Historical Society’s History Center (at Bancroft Park), and pick up (free) a copy of the “Westside Design Guidelines” which instructs an owner what he or she can do to identify, preserve, or restore their home, while adhering to its authentic architectural history.

    The Westside has come a long way, baby!

  3. Liz Arnold says:

    Thanks Dave, for the bit of history, and your efforts at keeping the west side historic! I ride my bike through the west side frequently, but I have not seen many of these gems! I think I’ll change my route! Fun! Thanks for the great pics!

  4. Louise C says:

    Whew! It IS a dizzying array. I guess folks enjoy the wild color schemes but to me they scream “Look at me!” A recent publication “Historic Westside Design Guidelines” suggest that a modest color scheme using muted and earthtone colors is historically appropriate. Bright colors and strong pastels were not typical of historic era homes and should be avoided.

  5. WOw. I am so glad you shared these with us. I go there several times a month from north county, and only see a few things on my travels. So now I hope to search out more of these gems. I would love to do paintings of these buildings, too. What wonderful paintings they would make.

  6. Mary H says:

    Maybe the colors aren’t so historic, but I doubt all those great house paint colors were available then. My guess is someone who loves decoration enough to build gingerbread ontheir house would have loved the color too. But even if they would not, the attention to detail these modern painters are giving their lovely little homes will see them through another generation of good repair.

  7. Mary Ellen says:

    Hey! #7 is our house!!! I’m flattered to be included–when we lived there it had a beautiful holly hock out front.

  8. Owen Cramer says:

    Thanks for these. The show concentrates on the eaves (spelling–I’m a teacher!) and not on the other decorative woodwork, so it omits *my* favorite in the neighborhood, 86 N. 30th street (nice pic at Google Mapls).

  9. Karen says:

    love this…thank you

  10. Dave Hughes says:

    Ah you youngsters (I am 82) don’t know the history of the ‘Painted Ladies’ which WERE started in the 1890s in San Francisco! (there is even a link above in the introduction to the Wiki story). Somewhat more affluent homeowners there, in their Victorian style building DID paint them brightly. But until color photography and printing came along in the 1950’s all the pictures of architecture were Black and White Victorians.

    It was not until the 1970s the trend resumed there and in 1978 came out the lavishly illustrated national book “Painted Ladies” while the Westside was just rediscovering the appeal of Victorian architecture under the grime for their homes.

    Down on Colorado Avenue around the 16 hundred block ONE Bed and Breakfast in a Victorian, brightly painted, was even named the ‘Painted Lady.’ Its now a chiopractic clinic I think. The trend – or should I call it a ‘fad’ – was started on the Westside.

    20 Years later you see the results in the 63 sets of ‘eaves’.

    Oh sure, it may be overdone. But then would you rather see, again, the slum and blight that the westside dug itself out of? Or would you prefer the look-alike-clone new developments like the Eastside has?


October 6, 2015 | NPR · U.S. prosecutors say John Ashe accepted more than a million dollars in bribes in exchange for support of investment contracts.

October 6, 2015 | NPR · The state’s highest court had ordered its removal this summer. But the argument over the monument’s propriety had been simmering for years.

Getty Images
October 6, 2015 | NPR · Hillary Clinton said Monday that the gun industry isn’t legally responsible for its behavior. She’s (partially) right.

Arts & Life

October 6, 2015 | NPR · “Meta” isn’t quite sufficient to describe Rainbow Rowell’s latest, which brings a fictional Harry Potteresque series described in her previous novel Fangirl to warm, messy, beautiful life.

October 6, 2015 | FA · FX’s American Horror Story returns for season five this week. TV critic David Bianculli says this season, which is set in a lavish old hotel, is “the most visually arresting and twisted one yet.”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
October 6, 2015 | FA · Chef Michael Solomonov sees his mission as connecting people to the food of his homeland. “That, to me, is my life’s work,” he says. Solomonov’s new cookbook is Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.


Getty Images
October 6, 2015 | NPR · Do the struggles at SFX Entertainment reflect the challenges of turning the dance-music experience into big business? Or is it something bigger?

October 6, 2015 | NPR · Now in its fourth decade of music-making, Los Lobos just released its first studio album since 2010. Rock critic Ken Tucker says Gates of Gold is “full of thick, mysterious music.”

Park Avenue Armory
October 6, 2015 | NPR · Laurie Anderson bears witness — videographic, sculptural, and musical — to Guantanamo’s ongoing legacy in Habeas Corpus.

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac