- Associated Press - Saturday, June 3, 2017

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - If closets could talk, those at The Broadmoor Estate House in Colorado Springs probably would go on and on about the summer attire of America’s early 20th century elite and how epically they packed for vacations on the Front Range.

Suffice it to say, Philadelphia pharmaceutical heir Thomas Harris Powers probably never had to sit on his wife’s suitcase to get it latched. When you have staff to carry trunks, overpacking isn’t an issue.

“They needed space for a wardrobe that would last them three or four months, so the closets were huge,” said Allison Scott, communications director for The Broadmoor. “Compared to the closets, sometimes the rooms were quite small.”

That’s not so much the case at the almost 12,000-square-foot “cottage” Powers and his second wife, Grace Stevenson, built in 1930 on land purchased about seven years earlier from the Broadmoor Hotel and Land Co. near the grand hotel owned by family friend Spencer Penrose.

“This house is absolutely, positively gigantic,” said Scott, whose employer is owned by Philip Anschutz, whose Clarity Media holdings include The Gazette.

After almost 90 years, The Broadmoor recently reacquired the 1.7-acre tract and the stately manor and has remodeled the estate into a luxury, historical destination venue for events and gatherings.

The original home, valued at about $60,000 when it was built during the Great Depression, had 17 rooms, seven bedrooms and seven baths, plus servants’ quarters, and was designed by Boston architects Frohman, Robb and Little, the firm responsible for Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in downtown Colorado Springs and the Washington National Cathedral in D.C.

It was dubbed “La Tourelle” in honor of the castlelike stone feature that dominates the facade, a tower topped by a circular room and traversed by a floating spiral staircase made of interlocking stone slabs.

“We had to replace the rail on the stairs, but the travertine is original. It’s really an engineering marvel,” Scott said.

A plan to build a lake with a backyard beach, just beyond what’s now home to twin croquet courts, never was seen to fruition; that envisioned waterscape now is Broadmoor Cottages.

The original carriage house on the property’s north end, as well as a four-bedroom home built in 1924 and designed by City Hall architect Thomas Maclaren, still stand but are independently owned.

La Tourelle’s earliest chapter is far more concise than the square footage in which it played out, said hotel archivist Beth Davis. She imagines the space might have been too much for a childless couple who maintained other grand residences some 2,000 miles to the east.

“Imagine being by yourself, with your wife, in this great big house…” Davis said. “They built this marvelous home and really didn’t live here.”

Powers and his wife only used the home briefly between 1930 and 1935. By 1940, it was being maintained by servants. And less than a decade later, it was up for sale. Over the following six decades, the home passed through a series of hands, including ownership and occupation by a New Age religious group, Universal Church Triumphant, before falling into disrepair and defaulting to bank ownership, according to Davis’ research.

The Broadmoor bought the home and land in late 2015 for $1.9 million, according to El Paso County property records, and soon after began work to return the estate to its former opulence - and then some.

“We’d looked at it for a long time and wanted to do something with it because it’s so gorgeous,” Scott said. “It was kind of a mess when we took over, with false walls on the north end, and they didn’t use this end at all. We saved what we could.”

Many of the home’s original features were in near-pristine condition, including the floors, windows and woodwork. The oak-paneled library had never been painted - unusual for a historical property with such an active provenance.

“The group that lived here before didn’t have a lot of money, so they couldn’t really ruin things,” Scott said.

The Broadmoor Estate House opened to guests for weddings, family reunions and corporate events last fall. The renovated and redecorated space now holds five suites, all named in honor of historic figures who played a role in the history of the home, The Broadmoor and the Colorado Springs area. All of the suites have private baths. On the main floor is a grand parlor that seats 60, a library, formal dining room and gourmet kitchen.

Although there are no photographs of the home as it looked when the original owners briefly sojourned there, Scott said she suspects the vision today is probably more lush than in bygone times.

“I’m sure this is warmer and more ornate than they would have had it,” Scott said, standing under a chandelier in the opulent foyer, by walls hung with giclee reproductions of original Western artworks from Anschutz’s collection. “We wanted this to be Gatsby-esque and very reminiscent of the kinds of grand houses on the East Coast at the time.”

That lavish experience can be yours - for an “intimate” gathering of up to 120 or overnight for up to 10 guests - for $8,500.

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