An Estate With a Pedigree and a Past
A thoughtfully restored and updated Estate House opened to guests in October 2016.
Early in its history, Colorado Springs saw well-heeled newcomers, entrepreneurs and bankers construct magnificent mansions. From elegant Victorians in the Old North End and gated or walled manors southwest of downtown to General William J. Palmer’s Glen Eyrie Castle, they flourished.
But it was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby, that may have inspired construction of the Broadmoor Estate House in 1930. Today the luxurious house features marble-tiled foyer and chandeliers, carved beams, spacious dining and living rooms, white oak-paneled den and manicured grounds – all reminiscent of the grandeur – and high life – of another era.
“It’s just stunning. Very Gatsby-esque,” says Broadmoor Hotel spokesperson Allison Scott of the 1.7-acre, 12,000-square-foot property at 60 1st Street.
Acquired by the hotel earlier this year, the home has been updated and artfully renovated. Many of the legacy property’s patina’d finishes, handsome woods, moldings, custom window latches and period stylings have been preserved. At the same time, modern mechanical and technology systems have been added to improve functionality. Today, the Estate House features five ensuite bedrooms on the second floor, each with its own bath. Downstairs, on the first floor, the house offers a staff bedroom, a library, large parlor designed for entertaining, a dining room that seats 16 and a full kitchen designed for in-house or chef-prepared meals.
Designed as a “single key” venue for corporate board meetings, smaller destination weddings and family gatherings, the home is already booking up, says Broadmoor CEO and President Jack Damioli. In October, for example, the mansion was reserved by a corporate group. It will also be the site of a family Thanksgiving celebration.
“And what a lovely Thanksgiving dinner they’ll have,” Damioli says, adding that the family will probably request a Broadmoor chef bring a turkey and the trimmings to the Estate Home for on-site preparation. Estate House guests not only enjoy private, self-contained accommodations – they also have access to a full range of hotel services and amenities.
But while today’s magnificent home and grounds are in beautiful, restored condition, that wasn’t always the case. The cost of upkeep and utilities has overwhelmed several past owners. Damioli admits that recently the estate’s timeworn exterior and unattended lawns had become an eyesore for the surrounding neighborhood. “The home always had beautiful lines and great potential, but it needed someone to care for it,” he says, crediting The Broadmoor’s ownership for “the vision and wherewithal” to make the Estate House the showplace it deserves to be.
But what about its fascinating past?
Built during the Great Depression for $60,000, the home’s cost represented a considerable investment – not unusual for the times. Colorado Springs had attracted moneyed families from the East Coast and Midwest for decades. Two good examples: gold and copper mining magnate who later built the Broadmoor Hotel, Spencer Penrose, and his business partner, Charles Tutt.
But unlike other prestigious homes, the Broadmoor Estate House seemed to attract extraordinary – sometimes mysterious – owners during its 85-year history.
The home was constructed on land purchased from The Broadmoor Hotel & Land Co. in 1923. Archivist Beth Davis says records show that Pennsylvania native Thomas Harris Powers hired Boston architectural firm Frohman, Robb and Little to design the house – and later, Grace Episcopal Church downtown. “Powers was colorful – perhaps even a bit of a scoundrel,” she says, noting that a cattle ranch he purchased previously in Cedar Edge, Colo. had failed as a business. “There were rumors that he changed his name to match that of his wealthy grandfather – founder of the Powers- Weightman pharmaceutical company – in order to inherit more of his money,” she adds. His marriages were also an issue. His first wife divorced him in 1914. A second wife, Grace Stevenson, married him in 1922 but the couple never had children and used the home only briefly until 1935.
Powers sold “La Tourelle,” (named for the stone turret that dominates the front of the house) in 1949 for $100,000 to an Oklahoma businessman. But it was the home’s sale 11 years later to Elizabeth Prophet, co-founder with husband, Mark, of the new age Universal Church Triumphant that added new mystique. The Church was viewed by some as a “cult.” Stories of local middle schoolers sneaking up to the home’s back windows to peer inside, only to be chased off by Mark Prophet, still circulate. The organization came under government scrutiny and moved to California in 1976. After that, the Estate House sold two more times and was eventually turned back to the bank.
Finally last February, the pedigreed property – purchased by The Broadmoor – found its proper home. And as Damioli notes with pride, while the hotel offers many outstanding luxury accommodations, the Estate House represents its very best.