New protection for Redstone Castle | AspenTimes.com

New protection for Redstone Castle

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Pitkin County Commissioners voted Wednesday to extend Redstone’s historic preservation district to include Cleveholm Manor, the stately structure more commonly known as the Redstone Castle.

The move will protect the 42-room Tudor mansion, built in 1902 by Colorado coal baron John Cleveland Osgood, from tampering by future owners. It also offers security for the castle “gatehouse” – a two-story residence currently used by the property’s caretakers – and a cluster of neighboring barns.

The county’s conservation efforts come at a critical time for the castle. The property was seized by the Internal Revenue Service in March as the agency investigated fraud allegations against the castle’s owners, Leon and Debbie Harte.

If the Hartes are convicted of the crime, the castle – a popular tourist attraction and a major source of revenue for Redstone residents – could be sold at auction to pay off the couple’s debts. But, thanks to the county’s actions, it’s “historical integrity” cannot be altered by its new owners.

“Now, there are a lot more restrictions on what you can and can’t do,” said Commissioner Dorothea Farris, whose district includes Redstone.

Redstone residents felt relieved after the vote, said Darrell Munsell, president of the Redstone Historical Society.

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“It’s a great victory for historic preservation – we’re all really delighted,” he said.

The historic preservation district offers a much-needed level of protection to the castle property, Munsell said. Though the castle and the surrounding grounds are already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, that fact does not necessarily protect them from development.

“Being listed does not protect those buildings, so a new owner could come in, and, if he didn’t like the castle, he could just take a bulldozer and knock it down,” Munsell said.

As a result of Wednesday’s vote, the county now has the authority to intervene when renovation plans surface, Munsell said.

“Any owner of those buildings will have to come to the HPC, the historic preservation commission, and gain permission for any alteration to the exterior of these buildings,” he said.

Unfortunately, the castle’s exquisite interiors – which include intricately carved wooden moldings and hand-painted wallpaper – aren’t included in the preservation package. The historical society will continue to pursue additional protection for these areas, Munsell said, in the form of preservation easements.

Munsell’s group will also continue to work with the IRS as it continues its investigation – and, ultimately, decides the castle’s fate.

[Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is jenniferd@aspentimes.com]

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