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'Spaceship bank' marks 50 years of iconic architecture

Daylong celebration marks anniversary, historic designation of Englewood edifice


Hundreds of people attended the 50th anniversary celebration of the uniquely shaped bank building at 3501 S. Broadway in Englewood that was designed by famous architect Charles Deaton.

Community Banks of Colorado now occupies the “spaceship bank” building and hosted the celebration of the building's anniversary and Charles Deaton's designing talents. Community Banks held an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 7. There was a line of people waiting when the doors opened. Later in the day there was a running video presentation about the bank and Deaton's work.

Also, the Museum Outdoor Arts located in the Englewood Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Parkway, is featuring an exhibit titled “The Sculptured Buildings of Charles Deaton.” The exhibition in the MOA Sound Gallery highlights Deaton's three sculptured buildings, including his similarly styled Wyoming National Bank in Casper and his Genesee Residence above Interstate 70 in Jefferson County (better known as the “Sleeper House” for the Woody Allen movie in which it appeared). The Deaton exhibition will be on view through Sept. 22. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday.

The day's activities wrapped up with a short ceremony presenting a plaque designating the bank building as now being on both the national and Colorado registries of historic places. G. Timothy Laney, National Bank Holdings president and CEO, accepted the plaque from Erika Warzel. Warzel is the national and state register historian with History Colorado. Laney said plans are to place the plaque in the wall of the foyer at the bank's entrance.

Architect Deaton designed many structures, including Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. He also created the concept for the three structures that have been called sculptured building. The bank in Englewood was the third of the three sculptured buildings.

He completed the original sketch of the bank in 1965 in his Denver offices. Work started on the structure in 1966 and it opened as Key Savings in April 1967.

In a 1966 television interview with Hugh Downs, Deaton said he created a scale-model clay sculpture as the first step in creating a building and felt the finished product was a work of art that became a building.

His clay sculpture of each of the three sculptured building was used as part of the plans the contractor utilized to build them. He said he kept in mind the planned use of the building and the structural needs to construct it. He said the clay model was divided into pieces so the design concept could be translated into the blueprints needed to construct it.

Joe Meehan, now 89, was the structural engineer on the project.

“Charles (Deaton) and I were good friends and our offices faced each other. For this project he gave me a clay model and told me the rest was up to me,” he said. “The shape was set and I had to come up with the proper structural designs. It was a challenge. I worked with the contractor and we decided the best way to construct the building was to create a rebar framework, tie all the rebar together then pour the concrete for the outside of the building. I guess it was a good plan because here we are today.”

Englewood resident Diane Wray Tomasso said the “spaceship bank” is a centerpiece of the city and an important part of the history of the community, so she took on the task of getting it listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

“I completed the process in 2004 to have the Genesee house listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and I said then that Englewood Deaton-designed bank would be next,” she said. “It was a few years but I began the process seeking the designation for the Englewood bank in 2015. It was about a year later when we were notified the Englewood bank was now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places as well as the state registry.”

She said receiving the registry designation was the first step.

“During the process to complete the registry application I talked to a lot of people about the building,” Tomasso said during the celebration. “Almost everyone knew about the building, and the fact 2017 was the bank's 50th anniversary, it seemed natural to have a celebration. A lot of people worked with me, including all the people at MOA. We have had big crowds all day and I think the celebration is a success.”


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