The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County has purchased the historic Spruce Street Mansion in downtown Boulder for $5 million. Doug Storum/BizWest.

Community Foundation goes from tenant to owner of Spruce Street Mansion

BOULDER — The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County has bought the Spruce Street Mansion, an historic three-story home converted to an office building in downtown Boulder where the nonprofit has been a tenant for the past 16 years.

The foundation paid $5 million to Linda Shoemaker on Dec. 9 for the three-story, 15,000-square-foot building at 1123 Spruce St. Shoemaker in turn gifted $1 million to the foundation, said Josie Heath, the foundation’s president.

The foundation formed the entity 1123 Spruce Street LLC to acquire the building. Heath said the purchase was funded by loans from donors, including Shoemaker. Heath pointed out that money from donations made to the foundation for its programs was not used.

The foundation occupies nearly half of the building, and the rest of the space is occupied by tenants, including the Brett Family Foundation, started in 2000 by Shoemaker and her husband, Steve Brett.

“The building will be self-sustaining with those leases,” Heath explained.

“The most important thing is that the foundation now has a permanent home, and we have a location for community meetings,” said Heath, who earlier this year announced that she would step down as president of the foundation at the end of the year.

Shoemaker and Heath selected the building in 1999 with the plan for the Community Foundation to rent from Shoemaker until the time came when the foundation could buy the building.

“That took longer than we thought,” Shoemaker said. “But it’s great now that they have it.”

Shoemaker acquired five separate condos in two buildings in 1999 for a total of $2.4 million, and then spent an additional $1.8 million remodeling, restoring and connecting the two buildings with a new structure to house an elevator and other amenities. The project included using skilled craftsmen to transform the properties into a modern office facility for community nonprofit organizations while maintaining its architectural integrity.

The Spruce Street Mansion is one of the earlier remaining residences in Boulder’s original town site, and is believed to be the oldest remaining brick home in Boulder.

The building was constructed in 1875 and is important for its architectural significance and for its association with the Arnett, Soule and Coates families, all early prominent Boulder families.

The land on which the Spruce Street Mansion stands was purchased from the federal government in 1866 by Anthony Arnett. He was a pioneer who came to Colorado in 1859 and had mining, real estate and other business interests in Boulder. He is considered instrumental in the establishment of the University of Colorado and donated $500 and four acres of land to the cause.

In 1872, the property was transferred to Arnett’s daughter Jennie and her husband, Albert Soule. Albert Soule was proprietor of a saloon and billiard room at the corner of Broadway, and was later appointed postmaster in 1896. In 1875, they started construction on the house.

In 1901, the property was sold to Edwin L. Coates, who owned the house through the early 1960s.

In 1962, Warren Rovetch purchased the Coates House, restored many of the original features, and he converted the building into office space. Ownership transferred to Stephen Harrison before Shoemaker bought the building.


Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected from its original version. It originally included an incorrect purchase price for the 1999 purchase of the property, reflecting only one of five condos. BizWest regrets the error.