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President & CEO Jim Diaz Managing Editor Jeremy Bangs Section Editor Rhonda Moore Contributing Writers Ashley Dieterle, G. Jeff Golden, Sonya Ellingboe, Chris Michlewicz, Tom Munds Circulation Sandra Arellano Advertising Manager Erin Addenbrooke Retail Sales Michele Apodaca, Karen Earhart, Kim Francis, Jennie Herbert, Susan Maass, Ron Mitchell, Sue Spinosa Graphic Design Andy Rickard Photography Courtney Kuhlen 2011 Douglas County Guide is a publication of Community Media of Colorado 9800 Mount Pyramid Court, Suite 100 Englewood, CO 80112 (303) 566-4100 Community Media of Colorado is the publisher of the following Douglas County publications: Castle Rock News-Press, Douglas County News-Press, Highlands Ranch Herald, Lone Tree Voice and the Parker Chronicle.

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150 years and counting B&B Café - a fading history Larkspur... Then and Now Renaissance Festival a one-of-a-kind Larkspur tradition Parker history lives on in local restaurant The Many Lives of the Mansion Volunteers work to preserve Sedalia’s rich history Historic buildings chronicle Castle Rock’s beginnings Plews House future uncertain Local park grows to be central area of Parker The disaster everyone saw coming How Franktown got its name The historic Frink House has stories in each room Sedalia resident collects, restores Army vehicles

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ON THE COVER: Douglas County Through the Years. Left to right: George Manhart’s store, Rock Ridge Post

Office, Castle Rock in 1925, Roxborough State Park, 2011 Elephant Rock Cycling Festival

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150 years and counting DOUGLAS COUNTY

Rhonda Moore

It was a look back in time as we assembled a selection of stories for the 2011 Douglas County Guide, honoring the county’s 150th anniversary. And what we found is that nowhere else is the adage more fitting : “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” The county turns 150 years old on Nov. 1, marking the day in 1861 when the Colorado Territorial Legislature created the state’s original

17 counties in the Colorado Territory. At the time, the county seat was in Franktown and, by 1874, moved to its present location in Castle Rock. According to the history books, that was the same year the county’s boundaries were re-drawn, merging most of the eastern portion of the county with Elbert County. As many residents will tell you, few places in Colorado offer the diversity of lifestyle that can be found in Douglas County, from the bustling communities of Highlands Ranch and Parker to the historic ranches in the county’s southern regions. In be-

tween, the rural lifestyle thrives among the soccer moms, professionals and growing families that choose Douglas County as their permanent home. For years, the U.S. Census Bureau has pointed to Douglas County as one of the fastest growing counties in the United States. Between 2000 and 2010 the county population increased more than 62 percent, with more than 285,460 residents counted in the most recent census. And despite the growth and ongoing march of modern development, those residents can continued page 7

o t e m o c l e W ounty C s a l g u o D From the 400’s


From the 180’s

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Douglas County fast facts   Founded Nov. 1 , 1861

Named for: Stephen A. Douglas

from page 6 step out their front door and step into pieces of history that aren’t much different than they were more than 100 years ago. From the historic buildings of Castle Rock, including a local

Mainstreet in downtown Parker. File photo

café with a storied past, to the storefronts in Sedalia, where residents protect their history with artistic resolve, celebrating the county’s history is more than just a one-day ceremony – it is for

many who call Douglas County home … a way of life. We hope you enjoy our look back at pieces of the county’s history and …. Happy Anniversary Douglas County. ■

County seat Castle Rock Highest population Highlands Ranch County Website





B&B Café a fading history Historic café slated for closure DOUGLAS COUNTY

Rhonda Moore

No reflection of Castle Rock’s history is complete without a look at the happenings at the B & B Café on Third and Wilcox streets. The café was built in 1899 as a livery stable on Castle Rock’s main street and was owned by a husband and wife team who called it Benton and Benton, after the family name. As horses became outdated, Mrs. Benton began selling baked goods to travelers. Around 1902, the couple shortened the name to the B&B Café and, within 10 years, the building was completely finished – in nearly the same state as it stands today. The south side of the building was the original meat market and the north side of the building is where one of the more colorful B&B stories took place. The bullet hole in the ceiling attests to the day on Feb. 14, 1946, when Castle Rock’s Marshal, Ray Lewis, was shot dead by escaped prisoner Manuel Perez. The bullet hole remains there today, a tiny flaw in the original tin ceiling that welcomes visitors to the B&B. But if history is at all times rewriting itself, the ceiling might be the only thing remaining when the B&B shuts its doors for the first time in more than 100 years. Unless the owner of the café can come to an agreement with the owner of the building, come February 2011, the B&B Café will close its doors for good. Present owner Angela Hooper provides the history lessons continued page 9


from page 8 that go with the building and hosts as many as 2,000 school children each year with historic tours and lessons from the walls of the B&B. Hooper is preparing for a new kind of history to write itself, as she readies to close the restaurant and take much of its history with her. Hooper’s mother purchased the business in 1982 and enlisted the help of her daughter to run the restaurant. Hooper raised her family under the umbrella of the B&B and, until her mother’s death in 2005, three generations of her family worked at the restaurant. A native of Castle Rock, Hooper remembers the days when prisoners of the original Douglas County courthouse were escorted by armed guard across Wilcox Street to dine at

the B&B. For years, the courthouse was without a kitchen and the B&B provided meals for prisoners housed in Douglas County, Hooper said. At around that time, in 1978, Hooper was among the teenage girls questioned about the fiery destruction of the courthouse, after a young girl burnt it down because her boyfriend was arrested for drunk driving. She has hosted governors, senators, football players and an endless parade of locals who flock to the B&B for its all-American dining experience. That experience will soon end as the result of a lease dispute that has spanned more than two years. If Hooper and her landlord continue on their present course, the B&B will close on Feb. 28, 2012, the last day

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Hooper has to vacate the building. Today, Hooper displays the final letter from her landlord on the front door of the café. Between now and the deadline date, she plans on stripping everything to the walls, including the bar, equipment and even the Black Cap shoe shining sign that welcomed servicemen during WWII. The sign was unearthed behind some drywall during a renovation and is recognized to this day by old timers who remember stopping at the B&B to keep their military footwear in tip top shape. “I have been told to get my restaurant out which means after 108 years the café is going to shut down,” Hooper said. “I’m looking at other buildings but it’s not the same because the history is not in the other buildings. Everything will be down to


DOU G L Feb. A S C O 28, UNTY the wall by (2012).” Hooper has received petitions from hundreds of local schoolchildren who want to see the restaurant remain open. Her original hope was to sell the restaurant for its present value. After months of failed negotiations, she is resolved to walking away and focusing her energies on the B&B’s new incarnation, a Kiowa café named after her late mother, Patty Ann’s Cafe. “I still think the kids should be able to come see (the B&B) and hear the stories,” Hooper said. “It’s not about profit or loss or anything, I just think this would be a big fat loss for the town no matter what.” Visitors can share a taste of Castle Rock’s history at the B&B Café, open for breakfast and lunch at 322 Wilcox Street in Castle Rock. ■




Larkspur... Then and Now DOUGLAS COUNTY

Larkspur treasures it’s history as it looks to the future

Sonya Ellingboe

In 1862, a territorial Post Office was established in Huntsville and reestablished in 1869, with the name changed to Larkspur in 1871. It has been in continuous operation since, according to the Larkspur Historical Society website. It adds that the town’s name was chosen by Elizabeth Hunt, wife of the governor, after the flower that grew in profusion there. The site was selected by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad which was constructing to the south and found fuel and water conveniently. From Larkspur, milk and dairy products, lumber, cattle and mined products were shipped to Denver A one room school house was built in 1872, later replaced by a brick schoolhouse that stands today, lovingly cared for by the Larkspur Historical Society which hosts occasional events in it. By the 1920s, Larkspur was considered to be a health and summer resort. People came to recover from tuberculosis and simply to escape the summer heat in the city. In 1915, the American Federation of Human Rights, a co-Masonic fraternal order which admitted women, was incorporated and bought 500 acres in Larkspur as international headquarters. A handsome administrative building stands today

ABOVE: Santa Fe Depot with milk cans from Carlson Frink Creamery, courtesy of Larkspur Historical Society. BELOW: Downtown Larkspur @ 1921. Courtesy of the American Federation of Human Rights.

and the compound provided a retirement place. Now, there are assorted homes that are rented. The headquarters building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998 and is also a Douglas County historic site. A promotional article by W.A. and J.H. Saare on the historical society website is dated 1921 and includes the downtown

Denver. It speaks of the availability of two train lines and the nearby ranches where prize winning cattle were raised. Mr. Frink had plants at various places in Douglas County and a facility in Denver from which he delivered milk to homes. Potash from the nearby mine was shipped to be refined in a mill made from a former brewery in Denver and north of town was a clay mine, which provided material for sewer pipes and pottery. It can be seen on a hillside north of what is now Jellystone Park. Larkspur Town Manager/ clerk Matt Krimmer, whose office is in the city hall (once

the small, one stop sign downtown retains a patina developed over the years photo shown, as well as the Santa Fe Depot, with milk cans awaiting train transport into

a residence) at 9524 South Spruce Mountain Road, has an extensive acquaintance with the town’s buildings past and present. He provided a panoramic photograph copied from one at his office, taken in the 1920s, with houses labeled as to past and present owners, as well as commercial buildings, including those washed away by the 1965 flood. History buffs will enjoy standing with a copy of it and looking west. continued page 11


from page 10 Thirty-five years ago, the Renaissance Festival became part of Larkspur’s mix, bringing thousands of visitors during its two month summer run. While some residents have high tech home-based businesses and others commute to Denver, Colorado Springs and points in between, the small, one stop sign downtown retains a patina developed over the years. To the west one finds a mix of large properties, weathered outbuildings, new and elegant homes and barns, expanses of green, with horses, cattle and an occasional llama or herd of goats. Foothills and blue skies provide a stunning backdrop to an idyllic setting. Some of the area ranches have a history that dates back more than 100 years

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Renaissance Festival a one-of-a-kind Larkspur tradition DOUGLAS COUNTY

and the Centennial Ranches offer another fascinating segment in Douglas County history. A new development in town is in the local park, at the east edge of Larkspur, which has new, heavily-used playground equipment. Also, with funds from the county and the state, the 1.3 mile Larkspur segment of the north/south Front Range Trail is being planned. It will connect to an east/west trail to the national forests and when completed, will stretch from Wyoming to New Mexico. Colorado University interns are doing the planning, Krimmer said. Hopefully, there will be enough money next year to build it. Drawings are prominently displayed on the town hall wall, looking to the future. ■

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Visitors stream into the Colorado Renaissance Festival last year. File photo

Sonya Ellingboe

Larkspur’s dominant business today is the Colorado Renaissance Festival, which has made merry at its site on Perry Park Avenue for 35 years, lasting through June and July and keeping a site with permanent buildings for artisans, food vendors, entertainers and others who recreate the spirit of a festive village from 500 years

ago. It boasts more than 200 artisans who exhibit glass, pottery, woodworking, blacksmithing, leather and fabric work and more. Festival population is also boosted by a bevy of costumed entertainers including musicians, jugglers, sorcerers and assorted royalty. Mayor Sherilyn West and Town clerk/manager Matt Krimmer said that about 52 percent of Larkspur’s city budget comes from the festival’s two summer months. There have been some disagreements between owners and city government in the past. ■ Dan “Wilsome the Fireblower” Hasselius entertains an audience during his stage show at the Colorado Renaissance Festival. File photo




Parker history lives on in local restaurant DOUGLAS COUNTY

Owner works hard to keep business grounded in Parker roots

Ashley Dieterle

Stepping into The Warhorse Inn Restaurant is like stepping back into the history of Parker. The original clay bricks and wooden floors set the western atmosphere, giving people a glimpse of what Parker used to be like years and years ago. The lot The Warhorse sits upon was once part the origi-

nal Littleton Creamery, and was built in 1897 on land donated by George Parker. It is located at 19420 East Mainstreet in Parker As one of the many milk separation stations, the creamery separated the cream from the whole milk, which was then shipped to Denver to be made into butter, said Larry Smith, historian of the Parker Historical Society.

After the creamery went out of business in 1912, the building was transformed in 1916 into a garage and gas station. Vehicles, including Model T’s, would stop at the garage and fill up on not just gas, but water too. “Model T’s would run out of water after 20 miles, so on their way from Denver, they would stop at the garage and fill up

with water,” said Steven Strain, owner of The Warhorse Inn Restaurant. “That is the reason they had a gravity flow water tube outside.” The building was used as a garage and gas station for many years before it was turned into a tack shop and then a western ware shop. But in 1983 a young Strain became interestcontinued page 13


from page 12 ed in the building and decided to purchase it and turn it into a restaurant. “I knew it had to be a really good place, because at the time there were only 300 people in Parker so I knew I had to appeal to people all over the county,” he said. “We even had people coming all the way from Kiowa to eat at the restaurant.” Strain knew the value of history and took the time to learn about Parker from the people who first settled there. He met Charlie O’Brien and Frank Dransfeldt before they died and learned the importance of hard work and dedication.

“I got to meet the people that places in Parker are named after,” he said. “So I engaged with them and wanted to know


now throughout The Warhorse, photos display the early times of Parker, giving people a view of the beginning of a thriving community. “It was important to keep the history and build on it. I was here at the beginning of the town and have watched it grow,” he said. “I have seen Mainstreet get paved and sidewalks and curbs develop on Mainstreet, so it’s made a big impression on me. It’s important for me to stay who we are.” ■



“It was important to keep the history and build on it.” their stories. I loved buying them a drink and getting them loosened up and hear all those old stories.” Strain learned that the people who settled in Parker were tremendously independent and had a strong pioneering spirit. Because of this, he wanted to keep the history of Parker alive in his restaurant. And

OPPOSITE PAGE: The Warhorse is at 19420 East Mainstreet in Parker. | ABOVE: Steven Strain, owner of The Warhorse Inn Restaurant at 19420 East Mainstreet in Parker, stands in the main dining room of the restaurant which has retained its original clay bricks and wooden floors. Photos by Courtney Kuhlen








The Many Lives of the Mansion Highlands Ranch landmark has storied past

Chris Michlewicz

Its charming brick facade and towering curved rooftop are matched only by an elegant, lavish interior that’s steeped in the rich glow of years past. The historical significance of the Highlands Ranch Mansion is not lost on longtime residents of the area. They know the stories, and in some cases, knew the people who called the 120-year-old mansion home. Its many owners vary from the original builder - John Springer - to oil magnates to a part-owner of the Denver Broncos. The Tudor-style mansion is perched on a hilltop that overlooks much of Highlands Ranch. Its massive backyard, far smaller than it once was, is marked by a windmill, a relic that has become a symbol for the sprawling suburb of 90,000 residents. The abode and its surrounding property have been known by several different names - the Diamond K Ranch, Castle Isabelle and, ultimately, Highlands

TOP: The oldest part of the Highlands Ranch Mansion was built in 1891. The mansion was expanded to double its size before 1925. | Photo by Mile Hi Photo, American Memory Project. Library of Congress. ABOVE: Horses pull visitors on a hay ride last year at the Highlands Ranch Mansion. File photo

Ranch - and has served many purposes. The ranch was the birthplace of hundreds of Angus cattle and purebred sheep, hogs and chickens. Similarly, other animals met their end in the rolling landscape as fox, deer and elk hunting have been

among the favored activities. Now, there are plans to finally open the mansion to the masses as a venue for private and public events. A laundry list of improvements is set to wrap in spring 2012, with a tentative opening in June.

Its modern attractiveness is clearly linked to its historic appeal. Stories about its secret passageway have been passed around the community, and recent discoveries are sure to create more fodder for locals.

“During the renovation, they uncovered hidden staircases that people didn’t know were there,” said Sherry Eppers, community relations manager for the Highlands Ranch Metro District. Construction workers have also pointed out indications that several additions were made to the mansion over the years. Roughly 60 percent of the original house was built with a Russian castle theme in mind, but was changed to reflect a more classic Tudor style during a subsequent remodel that added the other 40 percent. Those changes were made by Frank E. Kistler, who purchased the mansion in 1926 from Waite Phillips, one of the brothers who founded Phillips Petroleum and originator of the name Highlands Ranch. Kistler, incurring monetary troubles, eventually sold the property for $250 to Lawrence C. Phipps, Jr., the son of a tycoon who made his fortune with Carnegie Steel. Phipps

was initially invited to the property to lead a foxhunt group and ended up buying and living in the mansion for nearly 40 years, from 1937 until his death in 1976. The selling price was $13 million. The Highlands Ranch Mansion’s latest matriarch, Marian Morgan, who passed away in 2010, was proud to spend more than one-third of her 99 years on the property. Her husband, Bud Morgan, was hired as Phipps’ property manager in the 1950s, and Marian Morgan was allowed to stay at the mansion after his death in 1974. The property was purchased in 1978 to Mission Viejo Company, which had a vision of a master planned community. In 1997, Mission Viejo Company was purchased by Shea Homes, which gave the property to the Highlands Ranch Metro District for public use in 2010. At the time, Shea declared its pride in leaving a legacy by conveying the “soul” of Highlands Ranch to the people. ■

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Volunteers work to preserve Sedalia’s rich history Tom Munds

The rich history of Sedalia has been preserved for future generations thanks in a large part to volunteers like Barbara Belfield Machann, Carol Williams Mary “Douggie” Young and others who have collected documents and photographs and who staff the Sedalia Museum.. “I worked at the Douglas County library, I was very interested in the history of our town and it just seemed logical to gather information and preserve it by writing a book,” Machann said. “I have lived here all my life and I was well acquainted with many members of some of Sedalia’s pioneer families. So I contacted them about what I was doing.

They were so kind and generously shared their memories and pictures with me so I could at least document some of our history.” Her book, Sedalia 1882 to 1982 – Places, People and Memories – was published in the early 1980s. The book was a start but the town volunteers sought to have a place where people could learn about Sedalia and its history so they formed a museum about 2000. The West Douglas County Fire Protection District allowed them to use a small space to display some of their collection. The desire was to have a building and that was made possible when Gary Sutton offered to sell

the Bryant house to the group for $1 provided they moved it. “It was a huge effort to raise the money to move the building about a mile to its present location and to do all the necessary repairs,” Machann said. “We received donations from area residents and our volunteers put on bake sales, chili cook-offs and applied for grants. The efforts resulted in raising about $150,000 needed for the move and restoration.” The roots of Sedalia are traced to about 1865 when John H. Craig and some friends build a circular corral to hold cattle near the confluence of the West and the East Branches of Plum Creek. He registered a town site and four years later, he sold the

town site to Johnathan House in 1969 However, Craig stayed in Douglas County, moved to Castle rock where he served four terms as mayor and was a state representative. The site’s name changed from Round Corral to Plum when the Denver Rio Grande Railroad’s narrow gauge tracks pushed through the area. According to history, the Plum was named because of the large number of wild plum trees growing along the creek banks. The name Sedalia reportedly was adopted because of prominent land owner Henry Clay and the Sedalia Post Office opened. In 1882, the railroad built a stacontinued page 16


from page 17 tion and changed the name to Sedalia. The Manharts were among Sedalia’s pioneer families. In her book, Machann wrote that George Manhart acquired about 1,800 acres that became the Keystone Ranch. George was the first Douglas County Sheriff and was Sedalia postmaster for several years. His son Albert was treasurer of Douglas County and he served as Sedalia’s postmaster from 1924 until 1948. Meanwhile, George built a store in 1878 and then built a frame house next door. The building changed hands. Today, the store building is part of Gabriel’s Restaurant. These milestones and many photos and documents are preserved for the future in the museum. “One of the donations was from Bertha Hoffman Manhart who saved the local newspapers from 1898 until 1932,” Machann said. “The treasures in the collection were the gossip columns detailing such things of whose hens were laying eggs and who was visiting who. Douggie photographed each page, we cut them apart into individual columns, labeled they by date and we have 15 books detailing what day-to-day life was like in Sedalia and the surrounding areas.”




The museum is only open from late April until the end of August. But the volunteers continue collecting and working on donations of additional historic materials. They plan a tea in October and there will be an open house for the community in December so long-time residents and newcomers can learn more about Sedalia’s colorful history. Of course, no discussion of Sedalia and its history would be complete without including mention of Cherokee Ranch and Castle. Charles Alfred Johnson moved from Boston to Colorado, had success as a real estate developer and bought 2,000 acres in the late 1800s. He started construction in 1924 on the Charlford Castle. It was completed in 1926. In 1954 Tweet Kimball bought the property, added some adjacent land and renamed it Cherokee Ranch and Castle. She used the castle to house her art, antique and book collection and the ranch to raise Santa Gertrudis cattle. In 1966, Kimball established the non-profit Cherokee Ranch and Castle Foundation. The ranch and castle are location of a variety of activities including outdoor events as well as musical performances and concerts.

For information on the schedule of events, visit the web site at ■

OPPOSITE: Plum Street – This picture shows the dirt road and the false front buildings along Plum Streets in the late 1800s. Photo courtesy of the Sedalia Museum. BELOW: Fire house – Sedalia’s original volunteer fire house was built in 1907 and replaced in 1933 but the tower and bell from the original station were put atop the new building. The old fire house is located near the entrance to the Sedalia Museum located at 4037 Platte Ave. | ABOVE: Gabriels – The very popular Gabriel’s Restaurant building includes the house that Sedalia pioneer George Manhart built in the late 1880. The restaurant is so popular reservations are recommended. Photos by Tom Munds

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Historic buildings chronicle Castle Rock’s beginnings DOUGLAS COUNTY

Masonic Temple

First National Bank of Douglas County

Made of native rhyolite, the two-story corner building located at 300 Wilcox St. was the First National Bank of Douglas County until it closed during the Depression in 1933. The Masons purchased it for a lodge in 1937. An example of Richardsonian/ Romanesque style, it features eaves with cornice boxed brackets and frieze decorations. The lodge anchors the corner of the 300 block of Wilcox, which is one of the town’s most historically significant commercial blocks. This street replaced Perry Street to the east as the town’s commercial center after the stone courthouse was built on the west side of the street in 1890. Over the years the buildings have typically been a mix of saloons, eateries and offices, as they are today. The Masons lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Castle Rock Museum

Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Depot

The building at 300 Wilcox St., in Castle Rock, was built in 1904 as the First National Bank of Douglas County and now houses the Masonic Lodge. File photo

Made of native rhyolite stone, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Depot originally was built downtown on the west side of the tracks, north of Third Street. It was moved to its existing location in 1970 and now is the home of the Castle Rock Museum. The cornice brackets are as elaborate as any seen in Castle Rock, while the bay window allowed the stationmaster a panoramic view of the tracks. By 1872, the Denver and Rio Grande Railway Co. from Denver to Colorado Springs was the

route that essentially etched the town’s future for a century. The depot is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Old Stone Church Restaurant St. Francis of Assisi

The restaurant was originally St. Francis of Assisi Church, the first Catholic Church in Castle Rock. It was built in 1888 by local stonemasons of local rhyolite in the Gothic Revival style with a front gabled main roof and a conical roof over the nave at the rear. The church moved to a new home east on Colo. 86 in 1975, when the building was converted into a restaurant. The Augustine Grill Private residence

George and Evelyn Leonard built this house about 1910. John and Anna Schweiger, owners of the original Happy Canyon Ranch, purchased the house in 1918. When John died, his eldest daughter Rose lived here with her husband, Lester Tuggle, the first street and water commissioner and the town’s night marshal. In 1964, Anne and William McConnell bought and restored the house and converted it into the Golden Dobbin restaurant. In 1993 it was the French Bakery and became Augustine Grill in 1997. The building retains the popular Castle Rock device of a drip cap with enclosed gables to hide the 8-foot line. Castle Café

Keystone Hotel

Built of native rhyolite, the continued page 19


from page 18 Keystone Hotel originally had 13 rooms on the second story. The Tivoli Saloon was on the ground floor. A dance hall was built over the bar and monthly dances were held here from 1920 to the 1940s. Restored in 1996, today it is a restaurant with apartments on the second floor. At one time the Tivoli was reportedly one of the wildest places in Douglas County. The hotel and café are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Cantril School One of the earliest structures in Castle Rock, the Cantril School is one of the most architecturally significant building in Castle Rock and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built of rhyolite, it replaced the original wood structure. The school has a Roman arch

set in the west side of the prominent bell tower. Rectangular windows have transom panels above each. The hipped roof is decorated with ornate cornice brackets. Christ’s Episcopal Church Christ’s Episcopal Church, Castle Rock’s third church, was built of native stone. It features Gothic arched, stained glass windows and high gable roof. An addition to the church was completed in 2005. Upton Treat Smith House Upton Treat Smith was a Civil War veteran and rancher who was elected county treasurer in 1897. The house has a steep gable roof, tall narrow windows with rough-hewn stone lintels and sills, wood double-hung casings and hipped roof porch with decorative brackets. ■ This report originally ran Aug. 9, 2006, in the Douglas County News-Press.



Plews House future uncertain DOUGLAS COUNTY

Chris Michlewicz

The Plews House, a farmhouse that still stands just south of C-470 and Santa Fe Drive, has a past that’s defined by antiquated features, but its future is uncertain. In 1906, Matthew Plews, a well-known horticulturist who grew a successful horticulture and landscape business on the site, purchased the property and built the two-story house by hand. When sold to O. E. “Smiling Charlie” Stephens in 1937, he and his nephew began running illegal gambling operations. Now, a crumbling foundation and unstable frame have left its future in jeopardy. With construction costs beyond what was

anticipated, officials with the Highlands Ranch Metro District are trying to determine whether it should be renovated or demolished. It was intended to be the centerpiece of Fly’n B Park, which opened in August 2011. A historic structure assessment is underway and the estimated costs for improvement continue to climb. However, some wonder whether the home’s historic integrity would be compromised if it were converted for office use or a popular public gathering spot, as suggested by the district. Several members of local historic societies attended a meeting at the district’s headquarters and voiced their support for keeping the house intact. ■

Local park grows to be central area of Parker Ashley Dieterle

O’Brien Park in Parker is in the center of the town, a place where families gather for picnics and community events happening throughout the year. It is a place to relax and enjoy a warm afternoon. It is also one of the places homesteaded by George Parker. Long before there was an official town in Parker, the current park area was used not only as the town pasture, but as the place to play the village basketball games, said Larry Smith, historian of the Parker Historical Society. “The land eventually left the ownership of George Parker,” he said. “And long before the town became an official entity, the land owners transferred the park area to Douglas County to be operated by them.”

Long-time resident earns name of O’Brien Park O’Brien Park in Parker. File Photo

Changes to the area began and construction of facilities, like the pool, started and in 1989 negotiations were made between Douglas County and the Town of Parker ending with the town

gaining responsibility of the park. “The park was named after Charlie O’Brien, a long time Parker resident and town entrepreneur,” Smith said. “He and his

aunt Leana Pouppirt deeded the land at no cost to the county and Charlie promoted and served on the first Douglas County Parks and Recreation Board.” ■




The disaster everyone saw coming DOUGLAS COUNTY

Franktown visitors can visit ruins of Castlewood Dam

G. Jeff Golden

It may be an infamous event, but the 1933 bursting of the Castlewood Dam helped put the small Douglas County outpost of Franktown on the map. The dam, which was completed in 1890 and almost immediately had leaking issues, failed completely at 1:20 a.m. on Aug. 3, 1933. The 1.7 million gallons released during the disaster sent a wall of water all the way to downtown Denver, flooding LoDo and everything in between. The event resulted in two confirmed deaths – one in Denver and one in Parker – though it likely also claimed the lives of five or six unknown goldpanners who lived beneath the dam, according to Castlewood Canyon State Park visitor’s center attendant Brian Day. The fact that the dam burst came as a surprise to virtually no one. It leaked from the getgo, and a 100-foot section failed only a few years after construction was completed. The dam’s frailty received extensive media coverage as Front Range residents worried about an impending disaster, but repairs were always made and no major incidents occurred – until 1933. “Whenever it was full, it was leaking a lot. And then it held up despite all the controversy,” Day said. “Ironically, the part that leaked all those years is the part that stayed up. It was the other three-quarters of the dam that broke.” The minimal death toll was especially surprising, as the disaster occurred during the heart of the Great Depression. As many

The Castlewood Canyon Dam was built in 1890, and is visible at Castlewood Canyon State Park today. The dam burst in 1933 after several days of heavy rain weakened it. Photo courtesy Douglas County History Research Center.

as 5,000 homeless people were living along the waterways ravaged by the flood. What caused the structure to finally break in 1933 remains somewhat of a mystery. It was an excessively stormy night, and modern-day researchers theorize there might have been tornadoes in the area. The dam’s caretaker, Hugh Paine, reported walking out on it shortly before it failed and noticing it rumbling and shaking in an intense storm. To add to the perilous situation, the Front Range had seen more than a week of constant rain; the reservoir was nearly full. “There’s a theory that maybe a tornado came across the lake and pushed water up against it. Nobody will ever really know, as it was the middle of the night,” Day said. Paine immediately set out on his horse for Castle Rock, where he called Parker-based telephone operator Nettie Driskill. Driskill then began calling everyone she could to warn people to get away from the creek and

brace for flooding. Many historians credit the actions of Driskill and Paine with saving a number of lives, Day said. The reservoir created by the dam was a popular recreation area at the time, and engineers initially planned to rebuild the structure. The Cherry Creek Dam was built instead, by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1950. What’s left of the Castlewood Dam remains a popular tourist destination in Castlewood Can-

yon State Park. Visitors are no longer allowed to climb on the structure, but trails lead right up the ruins. The park’s visitor’s center also has a wealth of information about the disaster, including before-and-after photographs and an informational video. “If you look at it, you can basically kind of tell how it just snapped,” Day said. “You stand there and think, OK, so this was here, that was there. You can see the old spillways. It’s kind of fun to picture it.” ■

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How Franktown got its name



Miner leaves his permanent mark G. Jeff Golden

Many cities and towns across America have names with ambiguous origins. Douglas County’s Franktown is not one of those communities. Named for James Frank Gardner, a miner who settled in the area as part of the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, the town came into existence in 1861. Gardner had recently moved to nearby California Ranch and made a mining claim, designating the area Frankstown after his middle name. The new town even served as the seat of Douglas County from 1861 to 1863.

When railroads arrived in the area in 1870, the popular travel route on which Frankstown sat became obsolete. It transitioned into a small agricultural community – dropping the “s” to become known as Franktown – and continues to have a population of 395, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Gardner left quite a footprint in Colorado. In addition to having a town named after him, he served as county clerk, county treasurer, a territorial legislative representative, a state senator and a county commissioner. The graves of Gardner and his wife, Helen, can be viewed in the Franktown Cemetery. ■

A historical marker in Franktown bears a plaque honoring the settlement of the area, which served as the first county seat in 1861. Photo by Courtney Kuhlen

The historic Frink House has stories in each room Sonya Ellingboe

Larkspur’s mayor, Sherilyn West is connected to her city’s history every day because she and her husband own the circa 1913 Frink house next door to the Town Hall on Spruce Mountain Road. The Carlson Frink Creamery was the principal business in Larkspur from the late 19th century until the 1965 flood, which wiped out downtown, including the creamery, which was beginning to disband at that time, according to the Larkspur Historical Society website. Incorporated by Clarence B. Frink in 1902, the creamery

bought milk from the numerous dairy farms in Douglas County at the time and shipped it by train to Denver and to retail outlets in Douglas County. It also made and sold the famous Black Canyon Cheese. It is said that the spacious two story frame home, with carriage house and outbuildings was sold to Ellen Frink in 1914. West said she moved to Larkspur about 20 years ago and the house, described as a modified foursquare, became available. In January, 2009, it was designated as a Douglas County Historic Landmark The Wests have spent in-

numerable hours restoring the interior. They stripped paint off the original woodwork, which is decorated with egg and dart molding and includes shelves and cabinets. She has chosen Victorian flowered carpet in keeping with the home’s period

and has a series of classic children’s book illustrations under glass in a first floor room. The kitchen is completely remodeled in period style, complete with an elaborately rimmed blue stove and decorative tin ceiling. ■




Sedalia resident collects, restores Army vehicles DOUGLAS COUNTY

Tom Munds

Sedalia resident Fred LaPerriere has his own historic preservation program going as he collects and restores Army vehicles, most from the World War II era. “I was raised on a ranch and there were a lot of old military vehicles around,” he said. “They were sturdy and well built. Thirty years ago, I bought a World War II Jeep made in 1942 at an auction at the old Lowry Bombing Range. I restored it and that’s the vehicle I drive around town most of the time.” In the buildings around his Sedalia home, he has restored rare vehicles from the World War II era like the amphibious Jeep and a three-wheeled Jeep. The threewheeled Jeep is a prototype by Daves Company. It was tested but never put into production. LaPerriere said it may be the only operating threewheeled Jeep in existence.

About 20 years ago, he took on a major challenge as he decided he wanted to restore a U.S. Army mobile meteorological weather station. He found the vehicle, a large, van-like enclosure mounted on a standard Army 1 ½ ton truck. “Finding the vehicle turned out to be the easy part because the van that housed all the meteorological and weatherreporting equipment was stripped out to the walls,” LaPerriere said. “I got very lucky because, in my search for the equipment, I located the manual for the weather station. The manual not only listed the 800 individual items for the station, it gave complete measure-

where they were located in the van.” The cabinets were built to government specifications and put in their proper location in the van. Then he began the search for the equipment to complete the restoration. “I found some items on line and some at auction,” he said. “Gradually, I began to assemble

“The only thing I haven’t been able to find is a World War II rain gauge.” ments for all of the cabinets to hold all that equipment as

all the equipment, charts, manuals and materials that would be inside one of these mobile weather stations.” There were gauges to measure and record wind velocity, a teletype to send and receive weather information and even a portable two-way radio for voice communications. He even has a uniform from the era on a hanger in the station. “The project is a success,” LaPerriere said as he donned continued page 23




OPPOSITE PAGE: Fred LaPerrierre, wearDOUGLAS COUNTY ing a hat from the era, looks through the government manual for the 1942 U.S. Army Mobile Meteorological Weather Station. He has completely restored the station and has been told it is the only one still in existence. | A 1942 Army truck with the van mounted in the bed is a Mobile Meteorological Weather Station. Sedalia resident Fred LaPerrierre has spent about 20 years gathering the more than 800 items needed to complete the restoration of what is said to be the only remaining World War II mobile weather station. LEFT: This 1960-era tracked vehicle is just one of the Army vehicles Fred LePerrierre has collected. The Sedalia resident collects them, restores them so they run and can be driven then takes them to special events and shows. BELOW: Fred LaPerrierre bought this World War ll era amphibious Jeep and restored it so it is fully on land and in the water. The Sedalia resident bought almost a dozen Army vehicles and restored to operating condition. Photos by Tom Munds.

from page 22 the hat a member of the mobile weather van might have worn. “The only thing I haven’t been able to find is a World War II rain gauge. Otherwise, this mobile weather station is just like one would have been when this was put in service in 1942” He said he has been told it is the only fully restored example of the mobile weather station in existence and he plans to take it to Omaha, Neb. next August for the 75th anniversary celebration of establishment of the Air Weather Service.

”I take some of my vehicles to special events and to shows. Of course, I drive the ’42 Jeep regularly,” he said. “I don’t really plan any more major restoration projects. Actually, I have eight or nine vehicles now and just keeping them running and in good shape takes up just about all my time. It has been great restoring these items that are part of our history and I really enjoy having them and sharing the stories about them with the people I meet when we go to special events and shows.” ■

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6 6






W 64th AVE. W 87th AVE.



25 25


85 85

E-470 76 76 104th AVE. 104th AVE.


W 64th AVE.



270 70




E-470 E-470

225 225




70 225


At Taylor Morrison, we take pride in the homes and communities 25 we build in. Jordan Crossing in Parker is a perfect example of that. At Taylor Morrison, we take pride in the homes and communities 25 Residents enjoy the great location, plenty of recreational activities, we build in. Jordan Crossing in Parker is a perfect example of that. excellent schools and innovative floor plans. Residents enjoy the great location, plenty of recreational activities, C-470 excellent schools and innovative floor plans.



128th AVE. 136th AVE. 128th AVE.



144th AVE. 136th AVE.



25 25

1 4 5 1 W 87th AVE. 4 5 WARD RD. WARD RD.




144th AVE.










ANNIVERSARY | 1861-2011










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Taylor Morrison doesn’t just build homes. We build communities. Taylor Morrison doesn’t build homes. We build communities. Contact Becky for just more information at 303.656.7692 Contact Becky for more information at 303.656.7692 Offer void where prohibited or otherwise restricted by law. All incentives, pricing, availability and plans subject to change or delay without notice. Please see a Taylor Morrison Sales Associate for details and visit for additional disclaimers. © August, 2011, Taylor Morrison of Colorado, Inc. All rights reserved. Offer void where prohibited or otherwise restricted by law. All incentives, pricing, availability and plans subject to change or delay without notice. Please see a Taylor Morrison Sales Associate for details and visit for additional disclaimers. © August, 2011, Taylor Morrison of Colorado, Inc. All rights reserved.

2012 Douglas County Guide