The Creative Epiphany – The Historic Denver Perrenoud Building, Where Africa Came Alive for Me

   photo courtesy of

        photos courtesy of

Little did I know back in 2003-2004 that this remarkable historic private residence, built in 1810, would play such a pivotal role in my life and my art career. The Perrenoud Building, originally designed and built as a family home at 836 E. 17th Avenue, Denver, Colorado for prominent Denver pioneer John Perrenoud and his wife and three daughters, showcases an eclectic mix of classical elements over an enormous span of six separate family apartments  on four levels. The only fully functioning brass and wrought iron birdcage elevator in Denver still transports residents between floors – and originally there were individual dumb waiters ( small elevators in each private kitchen) which delivered piping hot  meals to all residents from the main kitchen located in the basement. Maids quarters were located in the top attic, and a newly restored ballroom is found in the basement, where originally a speakeasy was hidden away, with blacked out windows and ample room to dance and drink forbidden adult beverages.The main floor atrium lobby rotunda with Italian marble floors and fireplace, is a rare gem of an entry foyer – a towering ceiling, open railings and stairways to all four floors and topped by a spectacular, original stained glass window in blues, depicting angels sitting on a cloud. Can you imagine the fascinating history of this place? Do you get visual images of carriages arriving, parties in the ballroom and the grand life?

Today this glorious residence is divided into luxurious condos, each offering old world living with exotic woods and carvings and a European flare right in the heart of downtown Denver, just a short stroll away from the Capitol Building. One condo was purchased by my dear friend Christine-Mahree Fowler. I had worked for Chris, as I call her, for several years as the director of her art gallery. She told me about her experiences in traveling to South Africa – she listened to me talk about how I had inexplicably loved anything African from a very early age. I clipped photos from Nat Geo and I must have watched BORN FREE a hundred times. I knew all about the Big Five before age five. The friendship took off and we became “partners in crime”, planners of ambitious undertakings, dreamers of dreams. We began to make things happen based upon Chris’s many travels to South Africa, my love of the continent and artistic leanings, and both of our knowledges of marketing, sales and event planning.

Within a short time we had partnered in an import business we named UNBUNTU and Chris was going back and forth to South Africa importing art & artifacts from several reputable sources she already had there; I was painting with an ethnic African theme as if I were indeed channeling visions of people and places I had actually never seen, and we were hosting “invitation only” gallery shows of our collection in her circa 1810, 4th floor condo in The Perrenoud. We were a great success for several key years, attracting local African experts and others who were eager to soak up the culture and learn…. The moral of this story is that things can get done if you are creative, persistent and alive with passion for a plan.

Years have gone by and our respective business careers  have evolved, yet stayed intertwined, into new completely different things yet  they are basically, logically and appropriately the result of those earlier seeds! Chris is now working as a consultant for Africa Adventure Consultants, Inc. assisting people with custom safaris.   visit  She is also writing a blog on that very subject here with WordPress – visit www.africantraveltales by CM Fowler that I highly recommend for its content and elegant style in reporting raw news direct from the bush as well as sophisticated Cape Town, its fine art galleries and shopping, wine country and the scenic South African coastal regions..

I am of course still painting, talking to Chris nearly every day and brainstorming with her on our common cause – saving the culture, animals and people of South Africa. The thrust of our creativity is now placed in the direction of making a difference in South Africa – a continent we both feel passionately about – a cause we feel equipped to lend our energy and devotion. I will be going on my first Safari in 2014, accompanied by art students I have taught and friends I have made through the years. Chris will lead us – having carefully arranged the itinerary and chosen sights and experiences that we have particularly requested. We have both decided that importing African art and artifacts should come to an end – Africa should keep and hold those indigenous treasures dear to its heart and its people. What we will continue to do is to learn, enlighten, participate and assist those people who feel as we do – that Africa’s future is at risk and there is much to be done so that much is not lost…and forgotten.

If you have an interest in accompanying us on safari – any variation of custom safari you might imagine – contact Chris, known by most as Mahree  (a South  African name) and ask for some information. You will find no one better suited to listening to your dream and making it happen for you and your traveling companions.

Mahree Fowler

Safari Account Executive

Africa Adventure Consultants

Tel: 720-612-0802  • Fax: 303-778-0633 • Toll free: 866-778-1089 • Emergency: 720 836-6531

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