Orange County, Colorado

How a California homebuilder remade the Interior West

“I grew up in a place that grew up around me. I always saw two-by-four framing going on,” says my dad, Will, about how he ended up as a carpenter. In the summer of 1972, seventeen with a new driver’s license, he borrowed the family car and started driving east on Hampden Avenue from his childhood home in a filing of ranch houses at the southern limit of Denver.

As he approached his high school, Cherry Creek—still half populated by the children of ranchers from the plains east of the city—the road crossed into the community of Greenwood Village, newly incorporated with a municipal charter less than a decade old, and skirted the Cherry Creek Reservoir. Where the road straightened out again and crossed into the suburb of Aurora, construction of a subdivision was underway. “I saw this place, and the guy there asked me if I could hammer nails.”

The place was a 640-acre, 3,200-home community developed by California’s Mission Viejo Corporation. It was a miniature version of the Orange County city built by the same company, with everything from home patterns to street names …

Login or create an account to read three free articles and receive our newsletter.

from $5/month