Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Colorado Governor's Christmas Open House

High upon a hill at 400 8th Street and Logan Street in Denver, stands the Colorado Governor's Residence, also called "Colorado's Home."  It was built as a private residence in 1908 by one of the state's leading pioneers, Walter Scott Cheesman. He rode an ox cart from Chicago to Denver in 1861, where he joined his brother in the drug store business. Cheesman became an enthusiastic and effective booster of his new city, helping bring railroad service to Denver, developing the town's fledgling real estate industry and helping the city to rise to local and regional prominence.  When Mrs. Cheesman died in 1923 the house was sold to Claude K. Boettcher, a leading western businessman.  The house was inherited by the Boettcher Foundation when Mrs. Boettcher died in 1958. The foundation offered the house to the State of Colorado as an Executive Residence. The building needed a great deal of work, and its fate remained uncertain for nine months in 1959 as three agencies of the State rejected the offer. On the last day of 1959, Governor Stephen McNichols accepted the building as a gift to the state.

The house has been available for use by Governor's since 1960, both as a home and for official Governor's functions.  The present Governor, John Hickenlooper, and his First Lady, Helen Thorpe, chose not to live in the house during his term, as their young son did not want to leave his neighborhood friends, but the house is still used for Colorado governmental functions.  The 24,000 square foot mansion has housed six governors since 1960 and a handful of royalty and world leaders, including Charles Lindbergh, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry Truman and Princess Anne.

There are free scheduled tours of the house available year round, but it is especially lovely to visit during the Christmas season. The photo above is a view looking at the front vestibule door from the main foyer.The broad, columned corridor features ornate 18th-century French chandeliers and artwork from France, Italy, and China line the walls,

The front entrance foyer is decorated with a wreath and Santa Claus figurine on one side and..... Christmas trees decorated with white snowflakes, glass icicles and white and gold Victorian style ornaments stand on top of a hand carved Italian baroque credenza dating from the 16th century, behind the trees hangs a 1740 Beauvais tapestry, one of the several rare tapestries that decorate the mansion.

Every room on the first floor of the residence was decorated with a Christmas tree. The Drawing Room's tree had a Victorian theme, including Victorian-era toys surrounding the base of the tree.  The piano in the room is a Steinway.

The Drawing Room's mixture of European and Oriental motifs is carried throughout the mansion's public rooms, a reflection of the eclectic tastes of its private owners.

Of particular note in the Drawing Room is this magnificent Waterford Crystal Chandelier that once hung in the White House ballroom in 1876, when President Ulysses S. Grant presided over America's centennial celebration and which was the year Colorado was admitted into the Union as a state.

The beautiful library was remodeled in 1927 by the Boettcher family, with intricate cross-cut inlaid oak paneling covering the walls.

According to the Governor's residence website: "A centerpiece of the Library, and of the mansion, is the Louis XIV French cylinder desk, made of rare and delicate tulip wood with massive ormolu mounts. Created by Andre Boule, the most celebrated of Louis XIV furniture makers and designers, it is said to be one of only two in existence. The Library also boasts four circa 1690 armchairs, one of Aubusson tapestry, and a glass display case that holds unique jade sculptures from the 16th and 17th centuries, a pair of four-foot tall Chinese cloisonne urns, remarkable for their size and azure color and four Tang mortuary horses."

The beautiful custom made area rug in the library depicts Colorado wildflowers.

In the State Dining Room, the table and throne-like chairs are from Italy, hand carved from walnut. The massive table features lion and shield supports.

A close up of the table setting and centerpiece

Flanking the fireplace are antique French rococo style mirrors atop console tables.

Over the table hangs an 18th-century French bronze and crystal chandelier, with fruit shaped pendants in amethyst.

The magnificent Palm Room and its two wings have floors made of white Colorado Yule marble, the same marble that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, DC is made from. Italian Carrara marble was used for statuary, the scrolled pedestal tables, and benches and urns.

In the wings of the Palm Room, there is hand-crafted floor to ceiling leaded glass windows which bear the Boettcher family initials and overlook the south lawn.

The room was very bright from the morning sun, so it was hard to photograph the Palm Room's Christmas tree, but if you look closely you can see it is decorated with Native American themed ornaments.  On a clear day Pike's Peak, which 70 miles to the south, can be seen in the distance.

Colorado's First Lady Helen Thorpe wanted to include a multicultural theme to this years holiday decorations, so there were displays in the rooms and in the main corridor of artifacts significant to holiday and winter celebrations of the different ethnic groups that contributed to Colorado's heritage throughout its history.  The holiday decorations are from Asian, African, European, Native American, Latin American and other cultures, and a complete list of the cultural heritages displayed, and their contributors, can be read on the Governor's website.

The main corridor tree was decorated with colorful Mexican ornaments, and across from the tree....

..... on this table.....

...was a beautiful folkloric diorama of Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem before the birth of Christ.

The Governor's residence family room was decorated with a Kwanzaa theme.

 This was the family room's beautiful entertainment bar.

The family room also contains photographs of all of Colorado's past and present Governors, which can be seen on the left side of the photo collage above, and former and present First Ladies, which are on the right, and also portraits of the pre-statehood Territorial Governors, which are located in the middle.

The second and third floors of the residence are the private quarters of the first family. According to the Governor's residence web site: "The second floor contains the elegant Guest Suite that is a showpiece of the mansion's historic grandeur. After a 1987 remodeling, the three-room suite was outfitted with a set of unusual painted-finish Venetian furniture pieces that were in storage since the 1920's. These Venetian pieces include twin sleigh beds, armoire, desk, and chandelier. This was the room known as 'Charlie's Room' during the Boettcher years, as Charles Lindbergh was a close friend of the Boettchers' son, and was such a frequent visitor."

I really enjoyed my visit and tour of this stately mansion!

The mansion's grounds are in keeping with the classical decor of the marble Palm Room. Architectural elements include a small columned stone garden temple with a wrought iron dome.

There is a wide Italianate balustrade around the upper terrace and an alcove below with stone benches.

The residences' original carriage house has been renovated as an event space, and the week I visited Denver there was daily holiday entertainment being hosted in the carriage house.

I was fortunate that on the day of my visit there was a wonderful music program about the customs of a traditional Irish Christmas, along with hot apple cider being served as refreshment. It was presented by the Colorado Governor's Residence Preservation Fund (GRPF). The GRPF is a Colorado not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to preserve the Residence in perpetuity and to provide educational and cultural programs from the Residence that are statewide, inclusive, and nonpartisan.

If you visit Denver try to schedule a visit to tour the Colorado Governor's Residence, as I think you will find it as interesting and beautiful as I did!

I'm linking this post to the following blog events:  Outdoor Wednesday, Alphabe Thursday (the theme is anything holiday), Tablescape Thursday, Show and Tell Friday, and Pink Saturday.  Thank you to all the blog hosts!

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My name is Riet said...

Good morning Pat. What a beautiful mansion that is and how great you could lead us around. Every room is looking fantastic with their decorations and trees. I also love the first photo with the entrance hall.I love what they did to it. Just gorgeous.

Here's wishing you and yours



pam said...

Wonderful. I loved that credenza with all of the trees. I discovered as I set out Christmas things this year that I seem to have a "thing" for trees. I have around 20 table top trees sitting around. I never realized this before. And my, my the Waterford Crystal Chandelier in the Drawing Room is beautiful. I would have loved to have seen the rug with the wild flowers. I love the look of the Palm open and bright. I kind of had to laugh about seeing Pike's Peak on a clear day. We always went to Colorado each summer to start our 5 week summer trip no matter where we ended up and it was a game to see who could see the mountains first. Most of the time we were still hours east of Denver before we saw them. It's sad how close we have to be now before we can see them. This is an amazing Governor's Manse.

diane b said...

It is certainly a fabulous building and it is wonderful that it is being used and shared with the community. The rooms and furnishings are lovely. I especially liked the dining room. Thanks for the tour and information.

Scribbler said...

I really enjoyed seeing this. I lived in Denver for two years but never did tour this. I wish now that I had -- guess I'll just have to go back!

Old Kitty said...

I am liking the present governor and his family! I love that they didn't choose to live in this most beautiful grand place for the sake of ther child and I love the multi-cultural theme too! Wonderful!

Oh but this mansion is stunning!! I love the carpet in the library! I'd not walk on it - it's too pretty!

Thanks Pat for a most opulent peek into this beautiful house! take care

Lynn said...

What a beautiful house! Love the mini tree display and that diningroom table is amazing! Merry Christmas Pat:@)

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Great post. What a house beautifully decorated. I love your photographs and appreciate the work you did researching everything.

Snap said...

The Colorado Governor's Mansion is gorgeous during the holidays. Really enjoyed the tour and think I'm in love with the rug with all the wildflowers!!!!! Still willing to tote your bags! :D :D :D Merry Merry and a Happy Happy to you and yours.

Tanna said...

Oh. my. goodness!!!! That is stunning!! loved it. loved it. loved it! Thank you, Pat! blessings ~ Tanna

Carol said...

Beautiful! It's a very majestic place. Even prettier dressed up for the holidays!

Merry Christmas, Pat!

Vee said...

What a wonderful day for you to visit! This was a beautiful tour with so many interesting details. I loved seeing the tourists dressed in their warm, red coats. My favorite are the miniature trees on the buffet (you used a fancier word that I've already forgotten). What differences between the library and the Palm Room...such a gorgeous mansion. Colorado should be very proud.

Claudia said...

What is it about the old mansions that seem to be the perfect setting for Christmas? I feel like I could live in those rooms (I just don't want to heat the home). The Italian marble just stuns - in the best possible way.

I'm not eating cookies (well maybe one) this holiday. I need to lose the last of my weight - and what I realized - is if I can make these cookies - I can make them any time. So, if I get a hankering for an Italian knot cookie - I can make them in April! I love your grandsons with Santa - such a magical time. Meanwhile, I hope your energy returns to seize the day this weekend. Merry Christmas to you and yours. May you have a joyful holiday weekend!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Hello Pat, this tour must have been such a highlight...the mansion is beautiful and the historic furnishings are just amazing. Loved the chandelier and the mirrors. Your photos are wonderful. If I don't have another chance to say it, Merry Christmas to you and your family.
♥, Susan

Jeannelle said...

Thank you for this wonderful tour!

ellen b. said...

What a beautiful tour. I'm glad they let everyone click away. It really would be fabulous to have a dining room that size! :0)

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed my visit to the Colorado Governor's Mansion Pat! Your beautiful photos brought it right into my living room with me! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Beautiful, Pat... Reminds me a little of Biltmore... So many trees and all different themes!!!!! Gorgeous!!! Thanks for sharing..

You'll have to visit the grounds in the spring/summer.. Bet they are pretty then also.

Judy said... beautiful! And you do the best of tours. So glad you hosted the tour...and took us along.

Lisa @ Grandmas Briefs said...

This is beautiful, Pat. I've lived in Colorado nearly 40 years and have never been there. Thank you! It is indeed lovely all decked out for Christmas. Will have to put it on my list to do next year.

I *love* the new shot in your sidebar of the boys with Santa. I'm so happy for you and the delightful time you had with your loved ones. If I don't get around again before then, have a very merry and blessed Christmas, my friend!

Yvette said...

Just absolutely gorgeous, Pat. Thank you once again for sharing your wonderful travel photos.

I loved that exquisite chandelier and the Palm Room and the rug with all the state flowers and the trees in every room and...well, show me something I didn't like.

Can't be done! :)

Merry Christmas Pat, to you and your adorable family and very good wishes for your daughter's coming marriage in the New Year.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a spectacular home. It must be even more special in person. The decorations are just exquisite Pat.

Wishing you and your lovely family a very merry Christmas and the happiest new year ever.

Jeanne said...

Hi Pat, I should have know this was your beautiful post but I didn't. I just got so into viewing the fabulous home and reading all about it I was surprised when I saw your name. As always your posts are the most interesting read in blogland. Thank you for the history and the tour.

I haven't had time to play with the program I won but I will go full blast after the holidays,''In ref. to your question about (ever so long ago) an update I don't know but I will check it out. My life has been way to busy until now. I am 'ready for Christmas' and have enjoyed some computer time.

Blessings to you and your precious family this Christmas and always.
Love, Jeanne

Judie said...

Pat, your photos are beautiful! I am wondering how much it cost the state to decorate the mansion. That's an awful lot of work, isn't it?

Ames said...

We love house tours, especially at Christmas. I have been trying to rack my brain, I swear the house facade was used in a western movie. My It will come to me in the middle of the night!Merry Christmas!~Ames

Betty said...

I enjoyed your tour of the Colorado Governor's Mansion. I'm surprised that I've never heard the Governor's name before...was it Hickenlooper or something like'd think I'd remember anyway. I enjoyed my visit.

LV said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the tour today. My son lived in Colorado years ago, but never visited this lovely place.

Unknown said...

What wonderful pictures! I loved getting to go on this tour with you!

Debbiedoos said...

Whew! That was quite the mansion Pat. I really enjoyed my visit. That Italian credenza was really beautiful, but then again everything was. They sure knew how to live. The details in this place were amazing. Thanks for sharing. Have a very Merry Christmas!

podso said...

I knew when I saw the title of this post that I would be in for a treat! Lovely, festive photos! Have a wonderful Christmas!

Unknown said...

Pat Merry Christmas! Thanks for sharing! Love your post! joann

From the Kitchen said...

Pat: Thank you for the tour, especially at Christmas! It is a lovely mansion and the decorations are quite spectacular. While reading your post, I spied those adorable grandsons on your sidebar. Hope you are getting some fun time in with them.

Merry Christmas!


Unknown said...

Great pics, it's like I was there:-)

Kris said...

So beautiful!!! I love your history lessons, and beautiful photography!
Have a lovely, Merry Christmas!!!
XO Kris

Sarah said...

Pat, you take the most amazing photos. Every photo of this gorgeous home makes me feel as if I'm standing in that room. Thanks for sharing this Christmas Open House. Merry, Merry ~ Sarah

Houseelf said...

What a beautifully decorated elegant place to visit. Thank you so much for the tour.

Vicki/Jake said...

Finally made my way over here again.. I LOVE this mansion! Drips with history and how wonderful that it was saved. Now I need to go see what else I've missed. You have safe and warm Christmas weekend. I see Denver got blasted with snow!

Rettabug said...

Oh my goodness, Pat...oh my *big sigh* This is just WONDERFUL! My eyes are dancing all over those fabulous photos, trying to take it all in.
Thank you SO much for sharing every inch of it! I adore that dining room table!!!!

My baby sister actually hosted a dinner party for the CO governor at her house once. Our niece is a judge in CO & that was the connection. Wish I could have been there!

Wishing you a Blessed & very Merry CHRISTmas, Honey!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

What a spectacular mansion! Every room is beautiful decorated but my favorite is the Palm Room. Gorgeous!

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Pat!

Cathy said...

Thanks for taking us along on the tour of the mansion, Pat. You photos are fantastic. All the holiday decorations are stunning. Merry Christmas!

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Point goes to Colorado for allow photos inside their gov's mansion. Utah's gov mansion is same era and lovely to visit but with no photo rule...darn!

I wish I could do a yearly flu shot...but I am allergic to the preservative used in them. Looks like this isn't the flu I am fighting...but is procedure related infection after all. More pills. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Governor's mansion Pat!

Wishing you all the best in the coming year and a very Merry Christmas!

Helen said...

What a lovely post! From Bend Oregon ... Joyeux Noël

Cindy said...

That is one very beautiful mansion! I love all of the decor, it would be so fun to decorate a home like that!
Merry Christmas and many blessings in 2012.
Love and hugs, Cindy

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

This is like visiting the White house. When my second daughter was 5, her sis was 9, we queued a long time, after we came out, Gab asked, when are we going to see the President.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...


My understanding is that the State of Colorado does not pay to decorate the residence, it is done by private foundations and organizations. If you go to the link I gave to the Governor's website you can read the list of contributors. It really was beautifully and thoughtfully done!

Susie said...

What a wonderful mansion. I absolutely love the woodwork. Merry Christmas Pat. Susie (She Junks)

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed my tour immensely, Pat! Thank you so much. That fresh centerpiece in the dining room was so lovely. Merry Christmas!

Kim, USA said...

wow these is beautiful!! Love it!

Christmas Tablescape

GailO said...

This place is drop dead gorgeous! Your whole trip to Colorado looks like it was just perfect and incredibly busy! ...I love the photos of your grandsons:)Looks like they are pretty well snowed in rght now...good thing you headed back before the storms!

Have a very joyful holiday Pat!

anitamombanita said...

Thanks for the tour. That was lovely. So glad I don't have to decorate it, though. Hee hee. Merry Christmas!!

RNSANE said...

Greetings from Mumbai, India, Pat, where I am into my third week now of my four month visit to India. I just wish I had gotten here earlier so I could have had my six month stay.

As always your tour through the Colorado Governor's Mansion, in all its holiday splendor, was just wonderful. It is truly stately home and showplace, especially nice at this time of year. You did an outstanding job of presenting it.

Joyful holidays to you and thanks for a wonderful year past of blogs that warm the heart.

Mary said...

What a gorgeous place Pat! I can only imagine what a treat The Governor's Residence must have been to see in person decked out in all its Christmas finery! Thank you for the tour! Wishing you & your family the Merriest of Christmases!

Francisca said...

An excellent tour of the elegant Colorado's Home, Pat! Wishing you all the very best of the season!

La Petite Gallery said...

Hello Pat, It's snowing in Maine. We will have a white Christmas.
This was some gorgeous home,love the waterford chandelier, and oh my,that palm room is fabulous. Many thanks for all you great informitive posts this year.
May we see many more next year.
Best of everything..

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What amazing photos of a grand and elegant house! I love those huge pillars in the Palm room! WOW! The decorations are just right...not too much! Very beautiful! Merry Christmas to you and your family, my friend! Enjoy this holiday weekend! Warm hugs, Diane ♥♥♥

Buttercup said...

What a great tour. I especially liked seeing the Christmas decorations. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

Margaret said...

Wishing You and your famiy a Very Merry Christmas Pat. I really enjoyed viewing the gorgeous Christmasy Colorado Governor's Residence thru your lens Pat! Thank-you for all the beautiful pictures and excellent commentary :) I loved the wildflowers rug in the library and that blue blue sky!
Margaret from B.C.

Annesphamily said...

Our governors mansion is delightful! I have been there many times and always enjoy the tours.
Not a fan of the current gov! My girlfriends sister went to school with Dick Lamm's kids in the 1970s and they had a graduation party at the governors mansion! Last tour we were on Bill Owens was the gov. and his family lived there and the private quarters were off limits to tour goers. An old boyfriend from my youth had a mom who dated gov. John Love back in the 60s! Ha Ha! Telling my age! My late MIL went to school with former gov. Roy Romer! My MIL was the school valedictorian! Enough said! Ha Ha!
The home is magnificent. I worked in politics right out of high school and I am not a fan of any of them!
If I am not mistaken I believe Hickey is the 50th governor of our fine state!

Jenny said...

Oh my goodness!

What a glorious place! I think my jaw would still be sore from walking around with my mouth hanging open.

I can almost imagine the scent of the evergreens in that palatial home, Miss Pat!

Even though I'm late visiting, warm wishes are coming your way for a 2012 filled with joy and creativity.

Hugs from Arizona.