My visit to Miramont Castle

image from: www.pikes-peak.com

image from: www.pikes-peak.com

About a month ago I visited one of Colorado’s architectural treasures: Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

This grand home was built for someone very important. But I won’t tell you who until the end of the post. We’re going to play a little guessing game – no cheating! No Googling!

Miramount Castle

Look for clues in the interior pictures I took below.

I will give you a little background though…

Miramont Castle was built between 1895 and 1897. It was built as a personal residence. Must have been someone very wealthy huh?

inside Miramount Castle

The original owners lasted only a couple years in the castle then it was sold to an order of nuns. The nuns ran the building as a sanitarium until 1946. After that time the building was divided into 9 apartments and rented out to returning soldiers from WW2.

Miramont Castle staircase

For the next 30 years, the Castle was used as apartment rentals and it fell into serious disrepair. The condition got so bad that the building was almost condemned. Mercifully, the Manitou Springs Historical Society swooped in and bought the ailing castle in 1976, thus saving it from the wrecking ball.

inside the Miroamont Castle

Thousands of volunteer hours and dollars have gone into the restoration of the building and there is still work to be done. But the castle is now run as a museum and also features a tearoom and gift shop.

Miramont Castle interior

The Miramont Castle restoration crew were careful to leave as many of the original elements as possible like this ‘poison wallpaper’:

image from: www.dickndebbietravels.com

image from: www.dickndebbietravels.com

Why is it poison?

Because it contains an arsenic compound called Paris Green – which was used in the 1800’s to prevent certain colors from bleeding. It has since been banned because it is so toxic and caused all manner of ailments and deformities. (Don’t worry, the swatch on display is behind protective glass.)

Carrying on with our tour….

Miramont Castle interior

Miramont Castle has four stories with the entire backside tucked into the steep hillside and the window side facing due south. It has 30 rooms in 14,000 square feet. The building features 9 styles of architecture – all designed by the original owner.

room in Miramont Castle

interior of Miramont Castle, Manitou Springs

Several of the rooms were designed specifically for the lady of the house.

Victorian woman's bedroom

inside Miramont Castle

The photo above depicts a WW2 tribute room which the museum set up to honor the Castle’s past life as apartments for returning soldiers.

Below is a historic photo showing tourists passing by the grand home while it was still a private residence:

historic picture of Miramont Castle

And pictured below is the master’s quarters:

interior of Miramont Castle

The top floor of the castle is where the servants lived…

servants quarters in Victorian house

On the wall opposite to the tiny servant bedrooms was this odd looking thing:

Miramont Castle

This sign explains what that thing is:

Miramont Castle

wall anchor

It just gives you an idea of how unique and difficult the construction of this place was!

Below is a picture I snapped of the gift shop which is also located on the top floor:

Miramont Castle gift shop

And that concludes my pictorial tour.

Any idea who could have been the original owner/designer?

The answer is Father Jean Baptist Francolon, a French born Catholic priest. The lady of the house was his elderly mother!

Apparently, they were from a very wealthy, aristocratic family.

The scuttlebutt around Manitou Springs is that Father Francolon was a loner and very unpopular with the locals.

He and his mother left the town unexpectedly in the year 1900 and returned to France where Madam Francolon passed away. Father Francolon lived for another 10 years in New York then died in 1922. He never returned to Miramont Castle in Colorado.

You can read more about Father Francolon here, and Miramont Castle here.

 

10 Comments

  • livewire1965 says:

    Another great post:) This is an amazing place

  • Susan says:

    It sounds like the Father had a sad and lonely life despite his wealth.

  • betsy says:

    I visited here when my daughter lived in Colorado springs in 2002 . I remember that massive fireplace. I can see why in lots of these old places are preserved well, not many varmints were gonna mess with the poisons it took to make it decorative. I was told at the time that T.B. patients were treated on the property? That they found the climate there made them feel better.
    Loved your post.
    betsy

  • Jenny Lynn says:

    I would love to take a tour of it. Interesting that they suddenly left and that he never returned. Seems there was a lot of thought put into building such a mansion.

  • Sue says:

    Amazing castle surprisingly built by a priest and his mother. As I was scrolling, I was imagining living there in the past in all the glory. Nicest tour, thank you for sharing.

  • Lovely Miramont Castle! Have any one idea about Places To Visit In Alabama?

  • Ina Engel says:

    Hi,

    I think you life is my Freudian Slip- what I would really like to be doing!
    Judging from the helmet and riding pants, I think the soldier’s uniform is actually from WW1.

    Keep doing what you are doing and remember that a lot of people are sucked in to your humor and stories!

  • SB Smith says:

    Quite interessting !…I love the gothic parts…..It was good for the TB patients and anyone else as long as they didn’t touch that arsenic wallpaper !……. 😀
    Is there another historical place in the US with the name Miramont ?
    I ask because there’s a somewhat exclusive golf course community not far from where I live with the name Miramont…..Opened in 2005, no historical buildings on site, but it was advertised as very high end (altho’ not in those words)….
    Hubby and I, on the other hand, are rural …less than 10 miles from city limits, on 5 acres…..
    Scuttle butt is that when the owner/builder of the golf Miramont acreage sent out 300 initial invitations, wanting to attract people who might buy lots and build there…no one showed up !!
    At the time, the surrounding properties were either upper middle class neighborhoods and established farms since the city limits went thru there….I suspect everyone thought the owner/builder was a bit full of himself !…..But there are now many homes built in there and it seems to be doing well.
    To each his own….
    *
    http://www.miramont.cc/pages/about.html

Leave a Reply