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Charles Boettcher built "Lorraine Lodge," his beloved summer home and hunting lodge, atop Lookout Mountain while his family lived at its main residence at 1201 Grant St., on Capitol Hill near downtown Denver. Separated from his wife, Fannie, from 1920 on, Boettcher enjoyed his mountain getaway almost exclusively for nearly 30 years.
His granddaughter, Charline Humphreys Breeden, who later inherited the property, decided to winterize the house and live there in the 1960s while she and her husband raised their three children. In 1968, Charline, who was battling cancer, made plans to donate the 110-acre estate to Jefferson County for public use and enjoyment. It officially became county property upon her death in 1972.
Known first as "The Jefferson County Conference and Nature Center," the estate opened to the public in 1975. At that time, the county's Cooperative Extension Department built a nature trail and organized both indoor and outdoor youth programs. From 1980 to '89, the property was managed by the county's Open Space Department. In 1984, the mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Site #5JF323) in recognition of its social and architectural importance.
In 1986, a two-story lobby entrance was added to the front (north) side of the mansion, the kitchen was revamped to accommodate caterers and the ground floor of the carriage house was converted from a garage into a meeting space. In 2007, a $3.1 million Capital Improvement Plan - funded by the Jefferson County Conservation Trust Fund - was completed. These upgrades have respected the mansion's original architecture and enabled the facility to serve more than 40,000 visitors and hold up to 600 events each year.
In 1989, the mansion (and its outbuildings) became its own entity (separate from Open Space) within the county's Community Resources Department and was subsequently 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 $1.7 million Lookout Mountain Nature Center with expanded parking to handle the needs of both facilities. Today, while each facility has its own separate mission, both share the original 110 acreage (now called the Lookout Mountain Nature Preserve) and are part of Jefferson County's Community Resources Department. Photos courtesy of the Colorado Historical Society
Administration & Courts Facility 100 Jefferson County Parkway Golden, Colorado 80419 (303) 279-6511
© 2013 Jefferson County, CO.