• Hiwan Homestead Museum History

  • Hiwan Homestead Museum celebrates the vibrant history of Jefferson County.

    Hiwan’s architecture and collections speak of a bygone and elegant age. The museum is furnished with original and historic furnishings, and its artifacts include a sampling of the Native American art collection of Eric Douglas, longtime curator of Native Arts at the Denver Art Museum. Unique programs, displays and exhibits, which are sponsored by the Jefferson County Historical Society, View exit disclaimer policy page for links to third-party websites. bring history to life at Hiwan. Active craft and interpretive school programs are complemented by field trips, subsidized by the Jeffco Open Space Foundation. View exit disclaimer policy page for links to third-party websites.

    Hiwan Homestead was a cherished mountain retreat to the families who lived within its rough-hewn walls. In the 1890's, Mary Neosho Williams, a Civil War widow, and her daughter, Josepha, were among the aristocratic society of Denver who camped at Evergreen. 

    They acquired the simple log structure and hired John "Jock" Spence, a Scottish carpenter, to convert it to a summer cottage. The property was named Camp Neosho after Mrs. Williams' middle name. Overnight guests would stay in tents, comfortably equipped with wood floors, stoves and double canvas walls.

    In 1889, Josepha graduated from Gross Medical School in Denver and became one of Colorado's first women doctors. Seven years later, Josepha married Canon Charles Winfred Douglas, an Episcopal clergyman who achieved world acclaim for his musical work. 

    Josepha Douglas died in 1938 and the house was sold to Tulsa oilman, Darst Buchanan. His wife renamed the land Hiwan Ranch. Buchanan's Hiwan Hereford cattle were known throughout the country and won many stock show prizes.

    Six generations of notable families lived in this rustic mountain lodge before it was developed as a museum by Jefferson County Open Space in 1974.

    The Rustic Style

    The Rocky Mountain rustic style of architecture is similar to the rustic architecture style found in the great lodges in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Indicative of this style was the use of natural materials, including logs, stone, antlers and wood paneling. As decorative elements, tree branches were steamed and bent into elaborate shapes and wrought iron and copper were used to accent the lodges. The epitome of this Adirondack style can be seen in William West Durant's great lodge at Camp Pine Knot.

    In the last quarter of the 19th century, the Adirondack style spread West and was adapted for use in the Rocky Mountains. Prominent Denver architect, Jacques Benedict, captured the rustic feeling in his several buildings in the mountain area, particularly in the Gates "Chalet" in Kittredge, the Baehrden built for William Baehr (now part of the Pine Valley Ranch Open Space Park), and the Chief Hosa Lodge in Genesee.