Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Home, sweet mansion

Activist Gill, husband buying Phipps residence...

Donated to the university in the 1960s by the Phipps family, the 6.5-acre estate is valued at more than $9 million, said DU spokesman Jim Berscheidt. Proceeds from the sale of the home and tennis pavilion will be added to an existing Phipps endowment for scholarships, Berscheidt said. The property was listed for $9.2 million by The Wolfe Group of Fuller Sotheby's International Realty.

Political activist Tim Gill and his husband, Scott Miller, are buying the historic Phipps Mansion from the University of Denver in a deal expected to close by the end of the year.

The house, which the university now rents out for events, will be the couple's primary residence.

"Tim and I have been looking for a house that was very historic and that has a little bit of land so we can have a proper garden," said Miller, a wealth adviser at UBS.

The couple, who married in Massachusetts a year ago, wasted no time making an offer on the house after hearing it was for sale last month. They signed a letter of intent to purchase the 6.5-acre estate a day after touring the property.

The deal is slated to close Dec. 15 to accommodate events, including weddings, scheduled through the end of the year. "It would be bad karma for us to kick the brides out," said Gill, who founded the desktop-publishing company Quark in 1981. Gill, who is active in the Democratic Party, left the firm in 2000 to pursue philanthropic endeavors. In 1994, Gill started the Gill Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing equality by supporting nonprofit organizations that serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied individuals, as well as people with HIV/AIDS. Since its beginning, the Gill Foundation has invested more than $162 million in nonprofit organizations throughout the country.

Gill and Miller plan to renovate the kitchen and perform much-needed maintenance on the 33,123-square-foot Georgian mansion at 3400 Belcaro Drive, built between 1931 and 1933 for Sen. Lawrence Phipps and his wife, Margaret. They are not planning a gut rehab; rather, they want to maintain as much of the historic nature of the property as possible.

"Everything needs a little love," Gill said.

The artwork that now adorns the property is part of the University of Denver's collection and will be relocated to its museum, but Gill and Miller hope a few pieces will stay. "We don't want to de-Phipps the house, so we'll have to see what they say," Gill said. As they make plans for updating the house, the couple said Gill will be in charge of the garden, while Miller will handle interior design. They're moving from a home on a half-acre in Denver's Country Club neighborhood and plan to adopt a Bernese Mountain Dog in June.

Sen. Lawrence C. Phipps and his wife, Margaret, built the Georgian-style mansion and Tudor and Mediterranean-style tennis pavilion from 1931 to 1933 to create jobs during the Great Depression. The 33,123-square-foot mansion, designed by architects Fisher and Fisher, has more than 70 rooms, two of which were imported from England. The grounds were designed by Annette Hoyt Flanders, and the mansion was built by Platt Rogers Jr., Margaret Phipps' brother. Margaret Phipps gave the tennis pavilion to the University of Denver in 1960 and, with the consent of her sons, Gerald and Allen, the mansion in 1964.

Margaret Jackson: 303-954-1473 or

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