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American Foursquare is home to perpetual Oktoberfest

By: Mary Butler , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Musings, House Styles, In The News, Old House History

The Oktoberfest season is upon us and lucky for one Denver couple, they have to go no further than their basement to get a taste of Bavarian style. That doesn’t mean their lowest level is finished in anything resembling the baroque, rococo, medieval or even Romanesque architecture you would find in Bavaria — Germany’s largest federal state. This is America people.

No. The original owners of the 1908 Denver square painted murals depicting boys in lederhosen and girls dressed in dirndls; there are traditional Bavarian-style wood carvings, including hearts, trolls guarding the stairs, “Lowenbrau” lions and even wolves.

A traditional Bavarian mural decorates the basement of a 1908 American Foursquare in Denver. Happy Oktoberfest! Photo courtesy of the Denver Post

A traditional Bavarian mural decorates the basement of a 1908 American Foursquare in Denver. Happy Oktoberfest! Photo courtesy of the Denver Post

But I shouldn’t make fun. Apparently, the Bavarian beer parlor was the work of Eugene LeBert Jr., who lived in France and Germany before Hitler’s rise prompted him to flee to the U.S.

David Fox and Patricia Tjaden, the home’s third owners, enjoy the aesthetic, even though it is in complete contrast to their 101-year-old home, built in the simple, boxy American Foursquare style. Most foursquares offer the same floor plan: four rooms up, four rooms down. (And in Denver, these historic homes are quite popular. A quick Google search produced a number of real estate listings touting the architectural style.)

Fox and Tjaden’s teenage daughter, however, wasn’t as big of a fan of the unusual basement until recently.
“I remember when I realized just how scary the basement was. I must have been about 4,” the 19-year-old college sophomore told the Post. “I was playing Barbies with one of my friends (when) I simply looked up, made eye contact with one of the faces in the mural, and that was it. Suddenly the basement was too alive (and) creepy for me to spend time in.” Scary indeed.

But now — perhaps as the new college student has developed an affinity for beer drinking — the young woman told the Post she enjoys showing her friends the basement because it’s so odd.

“I’m proud of it now,” the teen told the Post. “It’s the highlight of the tours of the house I give my new friends.”

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