The Tears-McFarlane Mansion, a fashionable Denver mansion built at the turn of the 20th century, is prominently sited on the north edge of Cheesman 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 1890s through 1901. Architecturally, the 8700 square-foot house is among the best residential examples of the colonial Revival Style in Colorado. Stylistically it is described typologically as a Classic Box in the Colonial Revival Style with an eclectic mixture of Neoclassical, Georgian and Adam influences (Field Guide to American Houses, McAlester) and “box” is a good description since the house house a nearly square floor plan and elevations. Some of the characteristics of the stye that are exhibited by the house include the colonnaded portico, turned wood balustrades, Adamesque entry with the elliptical fanlight and sidelights, carved decorative garland panels and the flat arched brick window and door lintels with the carved urn detailing in the stone.
There are two items of interest in the mansion itself. 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 an autumn leaf pattern in seven colors. Lillian gave the window to Justin W. Brierly, a long time friend and counsel for the McFarlane family in 1972. Mr. Brierly donated the window to the City and County of Denver in 1978 after the mansion had been purchased for use as a Community Center.
The property was the 29th historic designation bestowed by the City and County of Denver Landmark Preservation Commission in 1972. The home was designated to a National Historic Landmark in 1976. 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 1900s era when the Capitol Hill and Cheesman Park neighborhoods were home to Denver’s most elegant addresses. Many were lost to demolition and redevelopment in the 1950s and 1960s, however, the Tears-McFarlane house remains an important architectural survivor and landmark.