HISTORY

The Tears-McFarlane House, a fashionable Denver mansion built at the turn of the 20th century, is prominently sited on the north edge of Cheeseman Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It was designed by the important Denver architectural firm of Varian and Sterner, a partnership that specialized in the Neoclassical and Colonial Revival style from the 1890’s through 1901. Architecturally, the 8700 square-foot house is among the best residential examples of the Colonial Revival Style in Colorado.

The Tears-McFarlane house was built for Daniel W. Tears. Considered the finest example of Sterner’s work, the historic structure was completed in 1899. Mr. Tears came from New York City where he worked with the New York Central Railroad. He moved to Denver for health reasons and began a private law business. The house was occupied by the Tears family until Mr.Tears’ death in 1922. The Tears’ were popular socialites in Denver, belonging to the Denver Country Club’s exclusive “Sacred 36” Club. Mrs. Tears stayed in the home until her death in 1937.

The property acquired its second owner when it was purchased by Denver socialite, Frederick McFarlane and renamed to the Tears-McFarlane house in 1937. Frederick’s first wife, Ida Kruse McFarlane, died in 1950 and Mr. McFarlane remarried the same year. The second Mrs. McFarlane, a professional actress and dancer named Lillian Cushing, taught dance lessons in the basement studio.

There are two items of interest inside the home. First, the tall, lavishly decorated mirror which stands in the hallway on the first floor was originally from the Windsor Hotel. Even more impressive is the stained glass window that dominates the landing on the main staircase between the first and second floors. Installed by Daniel Tears in 1898, “Stained Glass Window in Fall Colors” is attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany and is designed in a fall leaf pattern in seven colors.

The Denver Post proclaimed the McFarlane dining room as “one of the loveliest in the city” in 1962, the same year that Mr. McFarlane died. Lillian stayed in the home until 1966. The house was owned by the McFarlane family until 1972 when it was sold to investors. The property was the 29th historic designation bestowed by the City and County of Denver Landmark Preservation Commission in1972. The home was designated a National Historic Landmark in1976. The Smithsonian site number assigned to the house is 5DV-180. Additionally, a facade easement on the house was donated to Historic Denver in 1974. The Tears-McFarlane house is an important architectural survivor from the 1900’s when the Capitol Hill and Cheeseman Park neighborhoods were home to Denver’s most elegant addresses. Many were lost to demolition and redevelopment in the 1950’s and 1960’s, however, the Tears-McFarlane house remains an important architectural survivor and landmark.

Information is a compilation of information from Historical Structure Assessment of 2003 by Merrill Wilson, and from anonymous documents located in files belonging to the Center for the People of Capitol Hill. Date: November30, 2004; updated November 2006.