In the 1950s and ‘60s, something extraordinary was happening on Boulder’s architecture scene. In a state usually known for its rustic, timber-frame style, Boulder was "unusually friendly to modern avant-garde design,” according to longtime local architect Tician Papachristou, who moved to Boulder at the height of the movement in 1954.
Born in Athens, Greece in 1928, Papachristou earned both his undergraduate and Master of Fine Arts degrees at Princeton University before making his way to Boulder—via Greyhound bus—after landing a job with noted Boulder architect James Hunter.
Boulder’s avant-garde design trend was in full swing during the late 1950s. In 1958, CU Boulder professor Edward Sampson, Jr. and his wife, June, hired Papachristou to design their new home at 1900 King Avenue. At the Sampsons’ request, Papachristou designed the house with separate areas for the Sampsons and their four children. “The [Sampson] family is very devoted...but the elder Sampsons wanted an area of their own to relax and pursue their interests. The kitchen and living room functioned as a ‘togetherness room’ for the entire family,” Papachristou explained.
Embodying the organic characteristics of Usonian architecture, the home’s exterior was undoubtedly inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1953 New York Exhibition House. With traditional materials utilized inside and out, the structure integrates seamlessly into the topography of the lot, rooting the house to the surrounding landscape.
In 1977, Dr. William Wood and his wife, well-recogonized poet Renate Wood, purchased the property from the Sampson family. Dr. Wood recalled how his realtor was unsure of whether to show them the house, for fear its design might be too strange for their liking—but they both felt immediately at home. Dr. Wood has remarked that living in the home is like living inside a piece of art. That artistry may have had its effect on their sons, Oliver and Chris, who make up two of the three in Nashville’s Americana trio, The Wood Brothers.
Local architect Kristin Lewis designed a rear addition in the 1990s, continuing the modern language of the house and increasing the natural light. The house was recognized by Historic Boulder in 1997, declared a structure of merit by the City of Boulder in 2014, featured in a panel discussion on compatible additions as part of the 2015 Landmarks Board Lecture Series, and landmarked by the City of Boulder in 2016.