Redstone Castle attracts $4M bid
A historic castle where John D. Rockefeller and Theodore Roosevelt were guests – and where a coal baron’s ghost is said to haunt the halls – was auctioned for $4 million Saturday, two years after the IRS seized the century-old mansion near Aspen in a fraud investigation.The winning bid was from a man from Pasadena, Calif., said John Harrison, special agent for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The man, who declined to talk with reporters, had done his homework about the historical significance of the Redstone Castle and its sprawling 149-acre mountain estate, Harrison said.”I had a brief moment to meet him, and I think he’s going to be a real asset to the Redstone community,” said Walter Stanaszek, a University of Oklahoma professor who had the winning $480,000 bid for a nearby Victorian home. “I’m just excited to say I have a neighbor that owns a castle.”The castle and Victorian home sold for $6 million in 2000. The castle’s new owner will be identified later in public sales documents, Harrison said.IRS agents seized the 42-room castle in March 2003 while investigating an international Ponzi investment scheme. They also seized about $17 million in cash from bank accounts and race cars worth $2 million. The castle’s previous owner, Leon Harte, was being investigated before he died in 2003.
Investigators say about 1,000 people were bilked of $56 million on the promise of 400 percent investment returns. A grand jury handed down a 57-count indictment against seven people last year; a trial is scheduled in September.Proceeds from the auction will help reimburse victims, Harrison said.”This is the first castle, and probably the last, the department has seized,” he said. “There just aren’t that many structures like this anywhere in the country.”The castle’s sale was the latest twist in its roller coaster history.Teddy Roosevelt stayed at the estate during a hunting trip after he left the White House; oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller did, too.
But it was nearly abandoned after a mining bust, and some say the cigar-smoking ghost of its builder, coal baron John Cleveland Osgood – who also died in the castle – still haunts the place.Filled with antiques and surrounded by a carriage house, barn and other outbuildings, the castle has always been a pricey jewel.The mansion, in the Crystal River Valley about 170 miles west of Denver, was finished in 1902 at a price of $2.5 million – an astonishing sum at the time.Osgood called it Cleveholm Manor. It was erected on a mountainside overlooking the coal-mining town he built for his employees.”It’s kind of like a medieval manor. The castle was about an aristocratic mile away from the village,” said Darrell Munsell, president of the Redstone Historical Society.
“It demonstrates Osgood’s philosophy of industrial paternalism. Osgood believed that his employees should be contented, satisfied workers,” said Munsell, who is writing a book about Osgood’s labor policies. “He thought if they were satisfied with their conditions, they wouldn’t join the union and he would be rewarded with more production and less labor strife.”Osgood built cottages for the married workers, a dormitory for single employees, a library, a community center, a store and other structures in his company town, now called Redstone.It was a virtual ghost town by 1910, after the coal mine shut down. The mansion was neglected too, until 1924, when Osgood came back to stay. He died two years later.Despite a string of owners, the castle and grounds remain largely unchanged. Since the 1970s, the estate has usually been open for tours, wedding parties and other events.”The castle, of course, brings in tourism. Without the castle open to the public, that would really hurt the economy of Redstone,” Munsell said. “It attracts hundreds of tourists.”
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