In 1917, Charles Boettcher commissioned Denver architects Fisher & Fisher to design and build a secluded retreat atop Lookout Mountain for use as a summer home and hunting lodge. Since his Ideal Cement Company had recently donated enough concrete to pave the winding road that led from downtown Golden up to the summit, Charles was familiar with the area and when plans for a 60-acre mountaintop resort fell through, he jumped at the chance to purchase such a prime parcel of land. At age 66, having made a fortune from selling hardware, manufacturing Portland cement, processing sugar beets and raising cattle, it was time for some rest and relaxation.
Constructed of stone and timber taken from the site, “Lorraine Lodge” was oriented to look down on Denver and the plains beyond, with large plate glass windows installed in the front elevation to take advantage of the commanding views. The family quarters encompassed a cathedral-beamed living room flanked by a dining room and sitting porch, a downstairs master bedroom suite, plus two upstairs bedrooms with a shared bath and sleeping porch. Service areas included the kitchen, butler’s pantry and mudroom. The adjacent Carriage House was used as a three-car garage, with servants’ quarters above. The Gazebo offered shelter for picnics and hunting and the Well House provided water to the rocky site.
Separated from his wife, Fannie, from 1920 on, Charles enjoyed his private getaway for nearly 30 years, hosting many popular social gatherings and sporting events (the Queen of Romania attended one party, and wild game was frequently hunted on the property). After his death in 1948, the estate was inherited by his granddaughter, Charline Humphreys Breeden, who decided to raise her family there in the 1960s. Battling cancer, in 1968 Charline made plans to donate the now 110-acre property to Jefferson County for public use and enjoyment. It officially became county property upon her death in 1972.
Conference & Nature Center
In 1975, after the county’s Cooperative Extension department built a nature trail and organized both indoor and outdoor youth programs, the estate opened as a conference and nature center. The first wedding was also held on April 24th that year, with 75 guests in attendance. Shortly thereafter, more and more couples began asking if they could be married inside the mansion, which conveniently boasted a cathedral-beamed living room and terrace large enough to accommodate up to 200 guests at a social event. It wasn’t long before weddings and receptions became our primary source of revenue.
National Register of Historic Places
From 1980-89, the property was managed by the Open Space division. During this time, in 1984, the lodge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Site#5JF323) in recognition of its social and architectural status. While it was still being called “Tudor” at the time, the style has since been reclassified more accurately as “Arts and Crafts”. In 1986, a two-story lobby entrance was added to the north side, the kitchen was revamped to accommodate caterers and the ground floor of the carriage house was converted into a cozy meeting space.
Becoming Boettcher Mansion
In 1989, the complex became its own entity (separate from Open Space within the county’s Community Resources department) and was renamed “Boettcher Mansion”. These changes helped the original 1917 structures and their immediate surrounds distinguish themselves from the Nature Center, which moved across the parking lot to an old cabin located on the property. In 1997, Open Space dedicated the new $1.5 million Lookout Mountain Nature Center with expanded parking to handle the needs of both facilities. Today, while each organization has its own mission, both share the 134 acres that now comprise the Lookout Mountain Nature Preserve and are part of the county’s Parks Department.
Capital Improvement Plan
In 2005-07, a $3.1 million Capital Improvement Plan – funded by the County’s Conservation Trust Fund – was completed. This generous grant allowed us to respectfully preserve while sensitively renovate the mansion’s interior and exterior, enabling the 10,000-square-foot facility to serve more than 30,000 visitors and host nearly 300 social events, conferences and cultural programs each year. A remarkable example of adaptive re-use and self-sufficient sustainability, the Boettcher Mansion is proud to be Jefferson County’s premier historic events venue.