Today I am featuring this gorgeous Second Empire style mansion which is actually just down the road from where I live in Canon City, Colorado.
This exquisite 1884 home is located down by the Arkansas River just off of Highway 50. It has been for sale at least twice since I have lived in Canon City and it finally sold, not to a private owner, but to a company which runs special events. That may sound like a less than desirable fate for a historic home but it has actually been a very positive thing both for the mansion and for the community.
The mansion is now impeccably well-kept and for the first time ever, members of the general public can rent out all or part of the mansion for special occasions such as weddings.
I had the hedonistic pleasure of touring the Robison Mansion last year around Christmastime when the company which now owns the property opened its doors to the public for a fundraising event in conjunction with a local non-profit.
My little visit (with kids in tow) was an hour of pure house-peeping delight and was quite possibly the impetus for starting this blog in the first place.
While we were not permitted to take any photos inside the mansion and images of the mansion are tightly controlled, I did manage to find a few pictures on-line that *I think* are safe to share with you here (mostly from the Robison Mansion’s website).
Built in 1884 for wealthy mining entrepreneur Lyman Robison (that’s ROBISON, not ROBINSON), the mansion was one of the grandest homes in the entire area and remains largely original to this day.
The Robison family lived here for many years and they often hosted parties and events for the upper crust of local society. The mansion has had several owners during the 20th century and was extensively restored and remodeled in 1989. It most recently changed owners and was refurbished in 2009.
The exterior construction is of French influence with a decorative Mansard roof, Tuscan columns in the front of the house frame a classical portico added in 1901.
– from: flikr.com
The interior of this 6,500 square foot home is opulently furnished with period antiques and imported fixtures.
It’s difficult to see from the image below, but the formal dining room has a gold-plated tin ceiling…
The home also features large chandeliers imported from Italy; a 3-story Honduras Mahogany staircase imported from Austria; mahogany woodwork around ornamental fireplaces imported from Italy; ceiling Fresco work painted with gold leaf; and an impressive basement wine cellar capable of holding 2,400 bottles of vino.
The grand staircase [pictured above] winds around three stories and was built in 1884 without the use of ANY nails. There was a good reason for this, but I can’t for the life of me remember what that reason was.
On the second floor there is a very unique feature: during the last restoration of the mansion, a section of original wallpaper was uncovered in a hallway and the owners decided to preserve a swath of it behind glass for posterity. It was quite remarkable to see the original 1880’s paper. If I recall correctly, it had an Asian motif. Unfortunately, I could not find any pictures online of the Victorian-era wallpaper.
***An interesting aside: when I toured the Robison mansion last year, I was struck by the painting (or reproduction?) in the parlor [above] which depicts a woman in a red dress playing a piano in front of a mantel. The image is very similar – not identical – but very close to the picture over the fireplace mantel in my old house which, in fact, has been passed down with the house’s successive owners. And yes, if and when I ever sell my house, the picture of the mysterious woman at the piano will go with the house!
The most unexpected part of the Robison Mansion is the basement which was finished in 1989 to resemble an old English pub in one section, and a massive gated wine cellar in another part:
The ball & chain [above] is a fun reference to Canon City’s rather morbid history as a prison town.
The Robison Mansion is again opening its doors this Christmas season to host a fundraiser for a local non-profit. If you are anywhere near Colorado this upcoming weekend (and you are crazy about old houses) I highly recommend you get ye self to Canon City and tour this exquisite home and its beautiful grounds. More information about tour times and rates here and here.
If you can’t make it in person but would like to view a detailed photo tour, check out the Robison Mansion website.
To read about another grand mansion in my little Colorado town, check out the post I did a few months ago on the Gibson Mansion.