Friday, July 31, 2015

Manitou Springs, Colorado

There is a lot of charm to be found in this older mountain town.  It has preserved some of its older buildings and resorts.  One such building is Miramont Castle, built in 1895 for Father Jean Baptiste Francolon and his mother.  They were quite wealthy and had a chateau in France, which they returned to in 1900.  The Father had been poisoned in New Mexico and had some lingering ill effects from that.  He came to Manitou Springs with the hope that the Sisters of Mercy would care for him in his castle.  He became the local parish priest.  After he returned to France the Sister converted the building into a sanitarium.
What an impressive place this is, on many levels.  It is built into a mountainside, has 30 rooms and 14,000 square feet.  There are four flours stepped up the mountainside allowing for each floor to open onto the ground floor.  There are 9 styles of architecture within the building, and unusually shaped rooms.  One room, later converted by the Sisters into a chapel, has 8 sides, and a guest bedroom has 16.
 Miramont means "mountain view", and the castle was built with that in mind.  The room pictured above is the seven-sided glass solarium which has a roof with an 18" crown.  It originally had a glass roof.  The Sisters found this room to be ideal for minor surgical  procedures.   The castle also has a couple of interesting museums, one of which  relates to Fire Departments and shows the advancement of their equipment over the years.  A resident of the area, Judge John Carlton Young, was one of several judges who presided  over the Nuremberg war trials.  He brought back official trial photos which are on display in the castle.  There is an art gallery in the great hall on the fourth floor.  That floor has been used for local civic meetings, weddings, as well as for functions of the local Air Force Academy.
After touring the castle we decided to check out some of the other historic buildings of the town.  Pictured above is the Cliff House built in 1874.  By 1913 it was one of the largest and finest hotels in Manitou Springs with 265 rooms.  After seeing some of the older buildings we decided to wander further through the downtown with its many unique galleries and shops.  We also were aware that the town has 8 mineral springs.  Native Indians were the first to come here for the natural soda springs which they thought has healing properties.   We found a couple of the springs and tried the water which reminds me of a dilute, sweet alka-seltzer. It maintains a temperature of 49 to 55 degrees.    Pictured below is Cheyenne Springs.
An interpretive sign there explains that in the stone building the water is temporarily separated from the carbon dioxide for sterilization.  The water comes up from limestone aquifers a mile deep and is believed to be 20,000 years old.  A bottling water plant started in 1892, bath houses were also begun in the town then.  In the picture above, next to the building, is a bridge over a rushing mountain stream.  Both Fountain Creek and William Canyon Creek play a role in aquifer recharge.

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