Penrose House Conference Center
1930s-1940s photo of the estate
1920s photo of the estate
Spencer Penrose, circa 1930s
The estate gardens
Entrance to the estate as it looks today
Backstory and Context
Pioneer William F. Dixon, the first to settle in Cheyenne Canon, claimed the land in 1862 for what would be the Dixon Ranch and orchard. He built irrigation ditches for his farm and orchard and raised cattle. A portion of his property that had been apple orchards became the El Pomar estate. In 1909 or 1910, Grace Goodyear Depew built a Spanish style single-story house named El Pomar, Spanish for 'the apple orchard.' In April 1910, Grace married Captain Howard Ashton Potter. Mr. Potter lived in another house on the estate when the couple's relationship became strained and he died in 1913. Grace Potter died in 1914. Author Julian Street called it the "house of houses" in Colorado Springs, not knowing one in the country that "fits its setting better than this one, or which is more perfect thing from every point of view."1
Spencer and Julie Penrose purchased El Pomar, the Potter's wine cellar collection, and house furnishings in 1916 for $75,000 (equivalent to $1,650,688 in 2016) near The Broadmoor, a resort that they had built following a European vacation. They added second and third floors to the house.The estate buildings included the main house, gate lodge, carriage house, gardener's cottage, chauffeur's cottage, and a tea house. James Bell, who had been president of the National Association of Gardeners, was superintendent of El Pomar until his death in 1920.
In 1944, following her husband's death in 1939, Julie Penrose moved out of El Pomar and into a penthouse suite at The Broadmoor. She donated the estate to The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, who used it as a spiritual retreat center for almost 50 years. Named the Julie Penrose Center, it was the first Catholic retreat center for women west of the Mississippi. It was administered by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver.
In 1992, the Sisters of Charity sold the home to El Pomar Foundation, who preserves and maintains the home today.
"From NORAD to Parks: A Tale of the Cheyenne Mountain Project" (PDF). Colorado Open Lands. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 1, 2015.
"The History of the Colorado P.E.O. Chapter House". P.E.O. Chapter House. 2005.
"Dixon came down the Ute Trail 50 years ago" (PDF). The Gazette. Colorado Springs, Colorado. November 5, 1912. pp. 3–6, 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 5, 2015.
Duval, Linda; Banks, Marty; Parent, Laurence (2 August 2011). Insiders' Guide® to Colorado Springs. Insider's Guide. p. 28.
"Depew-Potter Wedding: Capt. H.A. Potter, nephew of the late Bishop, Met Fiancee Abroad". New York Times. April 12, 1910.
Laffaye, Horace A. (March 15, 2011). "Polo Across the Land: The Beginnings of Polo in Colorado". Polo in the United States: A History. McFarland. p. 37.
Metz, Judith (2009). "Women of Faith and Service" (PDF). The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. p. 27.
"Penrose Home Given to Sisters of Charity". The Milwaukee Journal. December 29, 1944. p. 12.
Street, Julian (1915). Abroad at home: American ramblings, observations, and adventures of Julian Street; with pictorial sidelights. The Century Co. pp. 432–433.