Manitou Springs is a very old community in the Colorado Springs area that still attracts travelers. Colorado Springs has both the newest attraction Ruth & I saw, The Olympic & Paralympic Museum, and the oldest, Miramont Castle, a truly venerable home in nearby Manitou Springs that really deserves to be called a castle.
While researching this blog, I happened upon a very old Colorado guidebook I had forgotten about, and I knew before I even looked that Miramont would be in it. It was. Not only was it inside, but it had some information that more modern sources lacked. For example, I learned that sprawling Miramar represents 9 styles of architecture in its 48 rooms and exterior, that it was built into a mountainside in Manitou beginning in 1895, and that the front door is on the 1st level and the back door is on 4.
Ruth & I would not have known about Miramont if it hadn’t been for Colorado Springs downtown tourist office. Looking for something unique to do, we inquired about unusual attractions and the lady had just been there for high tea and told us about it. She loved the experience and the tour. We went there the next morning.
Miramont Castle has a varied history. It was built by a French priest and added to. Father Jean Baptiste Francolon moved to Colorado from France and ended up as a parish priest in Manitou Springs. He brought his mother with him and built this castle for her. They lived in it for only a few years as it grew to 14,000 feet of local green sand- stone that is no longer quarried. They returned to France and never came back to Colorado. The Sisters of Mercy bought this mansion. These nuns turned it into a sanitarium that didn’t last. Like a lot of period mansions, it became apartments for many years and often changed hands. It suffered 2 major fires. The first was when the nuns owned it, and the 2nd was in 1972. It burned to the ground the first time but was saved by determined firefighters the 2nd time.
Today it has 3 functions. To honor the firefighters, this castle at 9 Capitol Avenue became a firefighting museum with much antique equipment. Self-guided tours take visitors into its many rooms. No two rooms are alike and all have varied shapes that challenge expectations. Because it has not been altered in any way, this building has many steps to climb that makes it authentic but difficult to tour. It also functions as a very in-demand tea room called The Queen’s Parlor.
The Queen’s Parlor Tearoom is a hot attraction. We could not get seated. Service is by advanced reservations only Call 719-884-4109 if interested. All that is served is made fresh daily. This tearoom is in the mansion’s greenhouse that became a terrace. It is now a glass-enclosed room with a great view and a hatrack containing Victorian ladies hats for wearing while sipping tea. In planning this tearoom many local hotels were consulted and Victorian recipes gathered to create an authentic 19th century experience that is highly valued today.