In early March of this year, I toured the Rosemount Museum in Pueblo, Colorado – about 45 minutes from where I currently live.
Rosemount is a historic mansion that has been exceedingly well preserved as an old house museum.
I visited with Lupe and my two kids and we were treated to a personal tour from a very knowledgeable (and serious) tour guide.
Built in 1893, the 24,000 square foot mansion took over two years to construct. It was designed by famed New York architect Henry Hudson Holly.
This 37-room mansion was home to the John A. and Margaret Thatcher family and named for Mrs. Thatcher’s favorite flower. It remained a family residence for 75 years.
The Rosemount is yet another one of those impressive Gilded Age monuments to personal wealth. But it stands apart as an old house museum because nearly ALL of the furnishings (decorative arts, custom paneling, wallpaper, window treatments, accessories and appliances) are original to the house.
The Richardsonian Romanesque style mansion was built at a cost of $60,750. The home and carriage house were constructed of pink volcanic stone quarried near Castle Rock, Colorado. Pink was the lady of the house’s “signature color”.
Rosemount features beautiful oak, cherry, maple and mahogany woodwork. The home’s golden oak entrance hall exhibits a coffered ceiling and the largest of the home’s Tiffany chandeliers. The dramatic oak staircase nearby directs you past an exquisite 9 x 13 foot stained glass window, “Kingdoms of Nature,” designed by Charles Booth of New York. The Thatcher family dedicated the windows as a memorial to Lenore and Albert, their two children who did not live to see Rosemount completed.
My two children, Noe & Tova, graced Rosemount with their boisterous presence…
(They were threatened within an inch of their lives to be on their BEST behavior.)
Below – a funny picture of me yelling at my kids as my son snaps photos:
(Yes, I’m one of those point-and-yell moms: “You. There. NOW!“)
The little monsters were actually fairly well behaved.
But there was one incident….
Our nearly two-hour long tour was punctuated halfway through with “I have to go to the bathroom!” from both kids. So Lupe brought them down to the basement to use the public restroom while I continued on with the tour. The tour guide and I were standing in the servant’s staircase chatting away about old houses when I noticed I was standing next to a vintage elevator.
“Does it still work?” I asked.
“Yes, but we don’t use it because it is such a rare antique elevator.” The guide replied.
“Really? Because I hear something in there…” I trailed off as I heard my kid’s giggles coming up the elevator shaft. A moment later the delicate doors lurched open and out popped my husband and kids – much to my horror and the tour guide’s astonishment!
Apparently, a volunteer had told them they could use it.
Ahem. Now every time we see an elevator, it’s a big laugh and a stern look from mommy.
My children were also impressed with the large antique player grand piano in one of the Rosemount’s parlours. The staff had rigged up the piano to a remote control so they could surprise you with a rousing Victorian tune when you least expected it.
Unfortunately, we were strictly prohibited from taking any interior photos. As with most old house museums, the tapestries, artwork and fabrics are so old and fragile that they need to be protected from flash photography.
I did find a couple of interior images on the Internet:
This gives you a sense of how opulent the décor is.
Below is a photo of the exquisite stained glass window in the grand staircase:
Rosemount is decorated each year for Christmas – you can imagine how spectacular it is. The tour guide told us that it takes a solid month to put up all the elaborate decorations.
Keep in mind that almost everything you see in these images is original to the house – the rug, the dishes, the paintings, the light fixtures.
Although I could only find one small photo of the kitchen, I just had to mention how exceptionally preserved this room is at Rosemount…
About 95% of the kitchen is original to when the home was built in the 1890’s. We’re talking way back when only servants went in there – original cookstove, tiles, wash tub sink, ice boxes, storage bins, and primitive intercom system that still works!
Below is the carriage house on the northeast part of the estate. It was converted to a restaurant in recent years called “The Carriage House” but unfortunately, was shut down when we were there.
One more funny story to share with you:
Before the tour guide led us up to the final leg of the tour on the third floor of the house, she turned around and said to me: “I just have to warn you before we go up – there is a mummified body upstairs.”
She explained that there was an ancient Egyptian mummy on display as part of the home’s Victorian curio collection.
Sure enough, there “it” was in a glass case in the center of one of the third floor rooms. My kids literally ran out of the room screaming. I do wish I was allowed to take pictures – but then again, I don’t want to ruin your dinner.
I asked where the mummy came from and the guide explained that a friend of the home’s original owner had been on vacation in Egypt back when tomb-raiding was a popular Victorian pastime. He bought this mummified body for around $5 from a port-side vender, apparently.
You never know what you’re going to come across in an old house.
The Rosemount is a near perfect example of a late 19th century Victorian stone mansion. If you are ever in Pueblo, Colorado, please take the time to stop off and see it – they even allow “well-behaved” kids!
For more details and a complete history of the home, see the official Rosemount website.