1899 architect’s drawings provide glimpse into Redstone Castle’s history
Two years after Steve and April Carvers completed their restoration of the magnificent Redstone Castle, another important piece of its history was preserved in a lower-key project.
The original architect’s drawings from 1899 were recently obtained by the Redstone Historical Society, then restored and archived in the Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection. The society will soon have a reproduction of the drawings on display at the castle.
“It was a big score for us,” said John Chromy, president of the RHS board of directors.
The project came together through the efforts of numerous people, most importantly the great nephew and great niece of John Cleveland Osgood, the industrialist who built Cleveholm Manor, the original name of the castle.
In 2004, RHS board members and contributors Darrell and Jane Munsell met Charlotte Osgood Blackmer, the great-niece, at a Colorado Preservation Inc. meeting in Denver. Through her, they met her brother, Peter Osgood.
“On a visit to Redstone, Peter Osgood recounted the story of saving the architectural plans from destruction when Lucille, (John Cleveland) Osgood’s third wife, ordered his papers to be burned while she resided in Denver after her husband’s death,” the Munsells recounted in an email.
The Osgood family donated the drawings to the society along with many other historical artifacts.
The drawings are important, the Munsells said, because they “provide a comprehensive view of the elegant estate envisioned by Redstone’s founder.”
Osgood hired the Denver architecture firm Boal and Harnois to design his grand estate in the Crystal River Valley. They were a leading firm of their day, also hired about that same time to design the Colorado governor’s house, Chromy said.
As an architect himself, he was interested that the original drawings were ink on beige-colored linen rather than blueprints with thin, white lines. The six pages of the original drawings were faded and had water stains, he said.
They supply a wealth of information about the original manor, which was completed in 1902 at a cost of about $3 million. They are labeled, “Cleveholm, Crystal Park Redstone.”
“The architects, Boal and Harnois, included notations of tile colors, wood flooring, and dimensions and specifications for each of the original rooms,” the Munsells said. “As such, the drawings are a valuable source of historical documentation establishing the original construction and décor of the Manor.”
Chromy said the drawings exposed some interesting tidbits. “It’s interesting that the room we call Nanny’s Quarters is labeled Bachelor Bedroom on the plans,” he said.
Debby Strom, an administrator for RHS, had this observation: “The Carvers’ restoration included removing a first-floor bathroom, added in the 1950s, to expose a door that opened the green music room to the great room. This restored the designed flow of the first floor.”
Chromy has had a fascination with the castle for more than 20 years. In 1999, the architectural firm he worked for was commissioned to measure, photograph and survey to make drawings of the castle. The project let him spend a lot of time at the special property.
“When this popped up, it was like, ‘Wow, really?’” he said.
Once RHS inherited the drawings, the Carvers couriered them to the archivist in Denver and are having the exact-sized replicas framed as part of the RHS display at the castle.
The project was a swan-song effort for the Munsells. They have resigned from their duties on the board and are moving from Redstone, as are other longtime board members Peter and Ann Martin.
“We are thankful for the decades that the Martins and Munsells have devoted to the Society,” the latest RHS newsletter said. “We have some really big shoes to fill with this loss.”
It’s not the only loss. The society wasn’t able to host is annual summer membership event due to the COVID-19 crisis. That makes the 2020 membership drive even more important. More on the Redstone Historical Society and a link for memberships can be found at https://history.redstonecolorado.org.
Information on the history of the castle can be found at https://theredstonecastle.com/history.
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