Aspen’s iconic Victorian going under significant renovation

The owners of the historic Sardy House are investing in the property with a large renovation project.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

The Sardy House, Aspen’s most iconic Victorian home, is undergoing a significant renovation that aims to preserve its rich history while making much-needed repairs.

New ownership took control of the Queen Anne-style home on Main Street in 2016, when a California-based LLC named BTRSARDY bought it for $23.2 million.

The largest investment the new owners are making into the property are retrofitting the windows with double-pane glass, which is estimated to cost $500,000, according to the city of Aspen’s building department.

The original windows still remain, which include stained glass ones that were installed when the home was built in 1890.

The roughly 9,000-square-foot property has 30 windows and four types — three of which appear to be original, according to Amy Simon, the city’s historic preservation officer.

Through their architect, Jamie Brewster McLeod, the owners received approval last year from the Historic Preservation Commission on the changes.

“The architectural team felt a whole renovation needed to happen,” Simon said. “They seem to be looking for every repair that’s needed.”

Those range from replacing the roof to restoring and cleaning the brick; repairing, replacing and repainting portions of the wood exterior; rebuilding and restoring porches and decks; and other general improvements.

Simon said one of the more interesting aspects of the project is the owners’ desire to restore the upper deck to depict what it looked like in a 1919 photo from the Aspen Historical Society.

Brewster McLeod, who declined to comment for this story as did her clients, is working closely with Simon on the improvements, which total just over $614,000, according to the city’s building department.

“I’ve done a number of site visits there,” Simon said. “Jamie is doing an extremely thorough and an especially good job.”

Simon said particular attention is being paid to cleaning the historic brick, with workers using mild chemicals.

“We don’t want to accelerate any deterioration,” Simon said.

Repairs also include new mechanical systems and landscape improvements.

The famous Sardy House tree will remain. It has been the scene of the community’s holiday season tree lighting for over 30 years, according to Simon.

The Sardy House is one of only four brick Victorian-era mansions remaining in Aspen. The others include the Aspen Historical Society, St. Mary’s rectory and a home on Francis Street.

J.W. Atkinson, part owner of the Little Annie mine, built it with bricks from his father’s brickyard on North Mill Street.

In 1945, Tom and Rachel Sardy bought the property and used it as their residence, and occasionally as a funeral home. The couple built a legacy in Aspen as operators of Aspen Lumber Supply and Mortuary. They also were elected officials and volunteers in the community.

They sold the property in 1985 to Frank Peters and Daniel Delano, who remodeled it and converted it into a luxury hotel and restaurant. They also built a carriage house that operates as a boarding house behind the home.

The city gave Peters and Delano approval to operate it as a 10- or 12-room boarding house. That condition remains on the property.

City staff approved the new owners’ desire to use the commercial kitchen and dining area within the residential area to prepare and serve meals for guests, and use the spa within the boardinghouse for occupants of the residential use.

The city retains the right to audit the owners to ensure that they are complying with the land-use code, including requirements for lodge operations and to obtain information regarding how short-term occupancies are marketed and managed.

The rooms have been available off and on since the new ownership took control of the property in April of 2016, according to city records.

The seven-bedroom, nine-bath main house encompasses 9,243 square feet, while the carriage house is 5,676 square feet, property records show.

There have only been five owners of the Sardy House. Records were not available to know how much Atkinson, the original builder and a former sheriff, sold it to the Sardys for.

But according to the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office, Peters and Delano purchased the property for $1 million from the Sardys in 1985.

After doing a multimillion-dollar renovation of the building in 2003 and turning it back into a private residence, Peters and Delano sold it to John Devaney of Key Biscayne, Florida, in 2006 for $16.25 million.

He sold it in April of 2016 to the current owners for $7 million more than what he bought it for 10 years earlier.


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