A close encounter of the architectural kind: Charles Deaton’s “spaceship bank” lands in Englewood’s Little Dry Creek Greenway. The designated historical landmark marked its silver anniversary last week. Photos by Peter Jones
BY PETER JONES
There is a simple reason why the often-dubbed “spaceship bank” on South Broadway looks like something out of the future.
“Charles Deaton [the structure’s architect] was born too early,” said Joe Meehan, a close friend who served as structural engineer on the building. “Fifty years ago, he had that idea—
it’s better to have wide open spaces.”
As some have remarked, Deaton felt people would be more comfortable in a building without right angles, like the human body itself.
The semi-oval building—variously likened to an onion or an egg—marked its silver anniversary last week, as its current owner, Community Banks of Colorado, welcomed historians, business and political leaders, kitsch tourists and anyone else with passing interest to board the spaceship.
“We even had someone who drove by this for 50 years—and they said this is my first time [inside] this bank,” said Randy Penn, executive director of the Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce, whose offices are on the building’s second floor.
The eye-catching conversation piece, located in Englewood at the intersection of Broadway and Hampden Avenue, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places last year.
A birthday cake was only appropriate.
The recent attention comes as Englewood establishes its first city-sponsored historical-preservation commission to keep a watchful eye on remaining landmarks.
“I think it’s clear that this bank is the centerpiece of our town,” said Diane Wray Tomasso, a longtime Englewood resident and a historic-preservation consultant who worked to get the bank building a place on a registry. “I originally listed the house up in Genesee in 2004 and at the time said the bank’s got to be next. It took a few years, but here we are.”
That similarly-designed “sculptured house,” also crafted by Deaton, earned international fame in 1973 when it figured prominently, among other Colorado locales, in Sleeper, Woody Allen’s self-described “nostalgic look at the future.”
Among Deaton’s other most famous works were the fully integrated sculptured twin stadiums of the Harry S. Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City, Mo.
Meehan, 89, who also worked with Deaton on the 1963 Genesee project, said the bank was a far more functional project than the house, which the late Deaton abandoned as a family home and has still never boasted permanent residents.
In contrast, the bank’s oval, for example, is more than just sci-fi accoutrement.
“It keeps the snow and ice off the building,” the retired engineer said. “… We’d meet every Friday at 1 o’clock at a little restaurant up in Lakewood. We had lunch for three hours. We put our heads together on how we were going to solve everything.”
The Museum of Outdoor Arts, located at the Englewood Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Parkway, is presenting an exhibit on Deaton’s work through Sept. 22.
Although to some the bank evokes the “future” as envisioned from a distinctly 1960s vantage point, Meehan thinks time has finally caught up with the imaginative structure.
“To me, it’s the 21st century type of bank—made in the 20th century,” he said.
Joe Meehan, structural designer of both the “spaceship bank” and Genesee’s “sculptured house,” stands by the original designs for the 1967 bank structure.
Architect Charles Deaton, left, explains his architectural principles to Hugh Downs on NBC’s Today show.
Even the bank’s safe looks like something Capt. Kirk might walk into.
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