Colorado Springs at 150 | The Broadmoor, the great lady of the Rockies | Cheyenne Edition
Editor’s Note: In July, as Colorado Springs prepares for its 150th anniversary on the 31st, our partner newspaper, The Gazette, prepared a series of articles on the history of our city. Return for a fascinating glimpse into the people and events that made Colorado Springs the landmark it is today.
The history of the lavish Broadmoor hotel and resort that became âThe Grand Lady of the Rockiesâ dates back to Colorado Springs in the 1800s.
The wealthy Prussian Earl James M. Pourtales had arrived by train in 1885, intrigued by the growing town of Brig. General William Jackson Palmer, his neighboring mountains and his mining boom area. It was also a sunny and dry site which was positive in helping the lung health issues of the countess who would become his wife.
Pourtales, with a background as a gentleman farmer, purchased part of 1800 Broadmoor Dairy, thereby securing water rights to Cheyenne and Fountain creeks. Alongside a man-made lake in Cheyenne, he built the large Georgian-style Broadmoor Casino in 1891 and the adjoining hotel in 1901. It was an entertainment and luxury district outside the town of Palmer, which was, as the count pointed out, âa city of temperance. âIn 1897, a kitchen fire destroyed the casino. The hotel remained part of what would become the main resort as a cheaper colonial club, razed to the ground in 1962.
Bringing the good life to the area, Pourtales and his friends established the Cheyenne Mountain Country Club in 1890, donating land near his Broadmoor and what would also become his dream estate of exclusive mansions. An acclaimed amenity of the region was the polo shirt.
Soon arriving, Spencer “Spec” Penrose, the Harvard-educated son of a well-connected Philadelphia shipyard family and a bit of a family black sheep, was drawn to the profitable Cripple Creek mining area, in partnership with the Philadelphia friend Charles Leaming Tutt. They have had incredible success in smelting gold camp ore.
Wealth brought Penrose a luxurious home on Millionaires’ Row in the Old North End of Colorado Springs. In this neighborhood, he met Julie Villiers Lewis McMillan, and they were married in London in 1906. Traveling the world, the couple envisioned building a resort in Colorado Springs. They lived in her home at 30 W. Dale St., and in 1919 she donated it to become the Broadmoor Art Academy, rebuilt over the years as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. The Penroses had moved in 1916 to a Spanish villa, El Pomar, near what would become their hotel.
In early 1916, Penrose and Charles MacNeil offered to purchase the upscale downtown Antlers Hotel from Palmer for $ 87,500. The offer was rejected, with Palmer’s estate opposing $ 200,000. In “The Broadmoor Story”, Penrose admitted what was already planned, that they “now have plans to build Colorado’s best hotel on Broadmoor”. And they did.
This is where a delicious local urban legend resides. Broadmoor of Penrose has a raised little “a” in its name. According to the story, the flamboyant Penrose wanted to buy the competition, and when his bid was rejected, according to urban legend, he saddled and rode a horse in the Hall of the Antlers, ordering drinks for himself and his steed. . He retaliated by giving his Broadmoor a small “a”.
Well, not quite. It was just a question of copyright. The Broadmoor brand had been used elsewhere during the 1800s, including the Broadmoor 1880 dairy. Copyright infringement was avoided by raising the small “a”, making it unique.
Penrose’s pink luxury project, created to be gorgeous, began in 1916. Everything was upscale, from New York City architects Warren & Wetmore and European marble, to hydro-thermo-therapeutic baths and a huge swimming pool, a Mediterranean design and art collections. A legendary family of New England landscapers designed gardens and walkways. The 18-hole golf course, the resort’s first, was considered the best in the country, designed by Scottish-born golf architect Donald Ross.
The opening night, June 29, 1918, lived up to its display as a “Big Bang”, bringing together a roster of 600 personalities for a formal dinner and dance to an orchestra brought by Julie Penrose from New York . It was the first in decades of celebrities and luminaries to be drawn to the hotel. Many of them also came to be entertained.
For guests and friends, showman Spencer Penrose reached out to his long variety of interests. One of the main hobbies was the automobile, and by 1912 the automobile lover “Spec” had created the Pikes Peak Automobile Company with 20 Pierce-Arrows taking visitors on tours of the area, including finally understood Pikes Peak. In 1935 he bought the Gray Line Touring Company and by the 1930s, still today, he had an exclusive arrangement for visitors and parents to travel in Cadillacs. Thanks to “Spec”, his Pikes Peak International Hill Climb celebrated its 100th anniversary.
In 1915, he bought the Manitou Incline Railway. Add to that, his complex had a stadium and rodeo, more polo, an ice stadium where Olympic and world champions trained and hockey teams played, Ski Broadmoor, Seven Falls, golf championships, camps tennis by the pros, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and more pages.
Spencer Penrose died in 1939, Julie in 1956. Both supported great philanthropies. They are buried above the zoo in the Will Rogers Sun Sanctuary.
After their deaths, The Broadmoor was run by the El Pomar Foundation, a charity responsible for much of the family’s fortune. As a result of the federal tax reform law of 1969, the complex was to be sold. Chosen to continue the Penrose tradition was Edward L. Gaylord, head of The Oklahoma Publishing Company with newspaper, television and radio stations; Grand Old Opry and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville; and oil, hotel and dairy companies.
Many major additions, renovations and changes were made during the Gaylord years starting in 1988. Christy Gaylord Everest said in “The Broadmoor Story”, “Our property at The Broadmoor was much more than an investment. Stewardship. of this beautiful historic complex was most important to us. “
In 2011, Philip Anschutz, who like Ed Gaylord had spent a childhood vacation with his family at The Broadmoor, purchased the special hotel. It was an early fate. When he was 10, he told his family he would buy the hotel. Like the Gaylord family company, the Anschutz Corporation family has owned dozens of businesses over the decades, including entertainment, sporting events, petroleum, railroads, wind power, telecommunications and real estate. Anschutz bought The Oklahoma Publishing Company and owns The Gazette. The station has been in an Anschutz trust for 100 years.
On June 2, 2018, the Gaylord and Anschutz families celebrated The Broadmoor’s 100th anniversary with hundreds of guests at a sparkling formal event much like the Spencer and Julie Penrose festivities of 1918. During the anniversary, Steve Bartolin, President of The Broadmoor, and Broadmoor President and CEO Jack Damioli, pointed out that it is extremely rare for a business to have only three owners in 100 years. The Broadmoor, they said, “has no corporate brand, only three families with a passion for a very special place.”
The owners have continued to build on Spencer Penrose’s legacy with 61 years as a Forbes 5-star property and the AAA Five-Diamond award since 1979.
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