Historic Downtown Denver

When you have a very short window to see an area in which you are traveling hitting the highlights is a must, even if only for a quick tour.  When Audley and I were in Colorado a couple of weeks back we really only had 24 hours to see the area.  On Friday of our trip we visited the Garden of the God’s and Pikes Peak and then we spent our Saturday morning before our flight out in downtown Denver.

I am a total history nut.  Not a glossed over version of history that the media and history books like for us to see, but a dig deep and study all the angles of an event or life.   I am fascinated by the people who came before me and how things have changed and grown over the years, bringing us to where we are today.

That’s why when deciding what to see in Denver we chose to start with the Margaret Brown house.

The lions at the entrance of the Molly Brown property

The lions at the entrance of the Molly Brown property

Who is Margaret Brown you ask?  You probably know her better as the Unsinkable Molly Brown after her heroics on the night of the Titanic sinking.

The Molly Brown House

The Molly Brown House

Margaret grew up the daughter of a poor Irish immigrant and married JJ for “love” after throwing out the notion she would marry rich.  Little did she know that “rich” was on the horizon as JJ discovered a band of gold in a silver mine he was working in Leadville, Colorado.  After they became Millionaires, they moved to Denver.

The simple Victorian that was the home of JJ and Molly Brown

The simple Victorian that was the home of JJ and Molly Brown

Knowing she was a first class passenger on the Titanic and her reputation for being a bit boisterous and gaudy, I expected a monster of a house, similar to the homes of the Astor’s or Vanderbilt’s,  but the Brown home was not much bigger than a traditional Victorian home of the era.  Mrs Brown and her husband, JJ, purchase the house that had been built in the 1880’s for about $30,000 which was a bargain as the previous owners were forced to sell due to financial issues.

The Carriage House gift shop

The Carriage House gift shop

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We were only allowed to take pictures outside the house.  There were no fancy gardens only a carriage house (that now houses a gift shop and video presentation of the Molly Brown’s life) and then the house itself.

Front of the home

Front of the home

The simple back view of the Molly Brown House

The simple back view of the Molly Brown House

The house was actually simply decorated without much grandeur at all. As a matter of fact it often stayed rented out as the Brown’s (or at least Margaret and her children) traveled extensively.  Margaret was a huge proponent of education and learned four foreign languages.

The original tile that covers much of the front porch.

The original tile that covers much of the front porch.

Window looking into the foyer of the home

Window looking into the foyer of the home

Despite marrying for love, JJ and Margaret quietly separated in 1909 due to the different paths their lives were taking.  They never divorced as they were both Catholic and didn’t believe in divorce, but she did receive a monthly allowance of nearly $19,000 in order to travel and stay involved in social projects she was undertaking.  She was very involved in social projects that benefitted children as Denver was swamped in poverty at the turn of the 20th century.

With Margaret’s travels she and her daughter found themselves guests of John Jacob Astor and his new bride, Madeleine in 1912. They toured France, Italy and Egypt before Margaret got word about an ill grandchild and decided to head home.  That is how she found herself on the Titanic.

Margaret earned her “unsinkable” reputation for encouraging women to leave their husbands and board the lifeboats before being forced into one herself.  Then, after the ship sank she was quite determined that their lifeboat must go back to the wreck site and search for survivors.  It is also said that she used her knowledge of many different foreign languages to console passengers and see that even the few third class survivors had their needs met.

Molly was known for throwing lavish parties where she would share he adventures from her travels.  The sinking of the Titanic didn’t crush that desire for adventure at all.

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The home was sold shortly after the Great Depression for $6,000.  Molly had used the home for a boarding house to help pay for the upkeep.

The Brown home is on the National Register of Historic Places, The group Historic Denver has been the caretakers since the late 1960’s when the house was slated for demolition.

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Margaret was instrumental in raising money for the building of Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. She could see construction from her house.  I can only imagine the awe at watching this go up in an era without high-tech building processes.

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Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

We walked over to the building ourselves, but were unable to enter due to a wedding. It was a beautiful building with gorgeous architectural elements.

Front of the Cathedral

Front of the Cathedral

Pope John Paul II visited the cathedral and they have this statue to commemorate that visit.

Pope John Paul II visited the cathedral and they have this statute to commemorate that visit.

Love the architecture of the cathedral!

Love the architecture of the cathedral!


We also stopped by the Colorado state Capital. At one time the Brown’s rented out their home to the governor and his family while their own home was being renovated.  You could also see the capital from her home during the years she resided here.

Colorado State Capital

Colorado State Capital

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I also loved the archetectural lines of the capital as well.

I also loved the architectural lines of the capital as well.

It was so neat to see how so many little things connected like a puzzle once we were downtown.  It was a beautiful day and perfect for strolling the streets of historic downtown Denver.

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Tell me, have you ever traveled out west?  What do we need to see next?


Rocky Mountain High

As most of you know, Audley and I have been Dad & Mom as well as husband and wife since the day we said “I do”, as the love of my life was a package deal with his 3-year-old daughter I was blessed to raise. I have loved every minute of being Mom, especially as we added three more kiddos to our brood over the years, but I also really enjoy the moments Audley and I can be just husband and wife.

With a last-minute business meeting in Denver thrown into Audley’s schedule a couple of weeks ago he asked me to fly out with him for a mini get-away.  As you can imagine, I immediately started packing my bags!  It was a very fast trip (we flew out on a Thursday afternoon & back on Saturday evening), but we made the most of our time and had a fabulous time!  After Audley’s 1 1/2 hour meeting on Friday morning we drove out to Colorado Springs where we visited the Garden of the Gods, then drove all the way up Pike’s Peak for the most beautiful and memorable sightseeing tour I have ever experienced!

To be honest, words cannot begin to describe the beauty of Colorado.  I’ve always loved the Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, but those are mere hills compared to the Rockies.  And since I can’t adequately put into words the beauty of our afternoon, I thought sharing some of our photo highlights would be the way to go.

Grab you a glass of sweet tea; this is going to be like an old-fashioned slide show of family vacation from the 1960’s and 70’s.

Garden of the Gods

20th year of the Visitor Center

Garden of the Gods is a National Natural Landmark (since 1971) located in Colorado Springs.  Original inhabited by native Americans as early as 1330 BC, the red rock formations and how they came to be made for an amazing day of travel and hiking for many a visitor.  Originally known as Red Rock Corral, travelers have been fascinated by the unique area for generations, but the area wasn’t formally named until 1859 when two surveyors were exploring the site.  Much of the area was privately owned until 1909 when it was given to the city of Colorado Springs as long as it was used for a free public park.  The city purchased additional land which has grown into over 1300 acres over the years.


A visitors and nature center are opened just outside the park entrance.  There you can view a movie telling the history of the area, dine of local game in the small cafe and learn about the animal as well a human inhabitants of the area.

Garden of the Gods Visitor Center


nature center

Hungry for lunch?  Sounds delicious to me!

Hungry for lunch? Sounds delicious to me!

Entry-way to the Park

Entry-way to the Park


Snow covered Pike’s Peak in the background




Native Americans lived in the rock caves of this area to protect themselves from the harsh winter weather as well as using the grounds for hunting.  Now the rocks are explored daily by tourists from all over the world.  People also bike through the park, hike and rock climb.



Balancing Rock ..... a prime photo opportunity

Balancing Rock ….. a prime photo opportunity

Rear of Balancing rock .... Federal Safety regs required the park to cement the rock into place despite the fact it had been balancing in the same formation for 100's of years.

Rear of Balancing rock …. Federal Safety regs required the park to cement the rock into place despite the fact it had been balancing in the same formation for 100’s of years.

I was totally fascinated by the trees that were literally growing on the rocks; roots exposed and all.  God is so amazing.


We left Garden of the Gods and headed towards Pike’s Peak.  They quit allowing vehicles to drive up around 6:00, so we were very excited to make it just in time!

Welcome to Pike National Forest

Welcome to Pike National Forest

Of course Pike’s Peak has been around forever, and I am quite sure Native Americans explored, hunted and lived in the area for many generations, but the first Europeans to discover the mountain was recorded in the 1700’s.  The first “American” sighting of the Peak was by Zebulon Pike in the early 1800’s.  He attempted to climb it in 1806, but failed to do so.  He described the area in his journal….

“…here we found the snow middle deep; no sign of beast or bird inhabiting this region. The thermometer which stood at 9° above 0 at the foot of the mountain, here fell to 4° below 0. The summit of the Grand Peak, which was entirely bare of vegetation and covered with snow, now appeared at the distance of 15 or 16 miles (24 or 26 km) from us, and as high again as what we had ascended, and would have taken a whole day’s march to have arrived at its base, when I believed no human being could have ascended to its pinical. This with the condition of my soldiers who had only light overalls on, and no stockings, and every way ill provided to endure the inclemency of the region; the bad prospect of killing any thing to subsist on, with the further detention of two or three days, which it must occasion, determined us to return .”

~Pike, Zebulon M. (1810). An Account of Expeditions to the Sources of the Mississippi.

He never reached the top.  I could only imagine his thoughts if he were to have that opportunity today.  Several have conquered the mountain in the 200+ years since, including the first woman who accomplished the task in 1858!

Apparently there is a lot of wildlife in the area surrounding Pike's Peak!!

Apparently there is a lot of wildlife in the area surrounding Pike’s Peak!!


The location is actually VERY romantic!  We couldn’t help but pause for a kiss.

Pike's Peak North Slope Recreation Area

Pike’s Peak North Slope Recreation Area

The view as we drove up was so amazing!  Audley and I kept stopping just to take it all in.





In the Beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth .... Genesis 1:1
In the Beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth …. Genesis 1:1

It’s an 18 mile drive to the top of the Peak; with all of our stops it took just over an hour.  And the views were breathtaking from the top.


I felt like I needed and oxygen tank.


At the tip top of the peak
At the tip-top of the peak

Little did we know that it would be 35 degrees at the top.  To say we were underdressed is an understatement!   You can see snow in the distance, but you don’t realize how much there really is until you arrive at the top!

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Katharine Lee Bates wrote the song America the Beautiful in July of 1893 after seeing the view from the top of Pike’s Peak.  She originally wrote the words as a poem and those beautiful words were set to music in 1910.

There is a beautiful monument showcasing the words of this now treasured song atop the mountain.

God Bless America


There is no doubt the inspiration that Katharine Lee Bates gleaned as she basked in the same glorious view that we did.


Before we were to leave the top of the mountain the clouds were rolling in.  It was very strange feeling to be standing, then driving in the clouds.


The ride down the mountain was much quicker as we were trying to beat the fog that was rolling in.  The park service were setting up the fog lights and turning them on as we began to descend.  I can imagine the danger of driving it at night in the fog and so glad we didn’t have to experience it!

Our time in Colorado Springs and the surround area was short, but totally unforgettable!  I would truly love to take our entire family out to see this area.  I know they will love as much as I did.

Next on our trip was taking in a little history in downtown Denver.  I’ll share that with you next week!

Have a fabulous weekend!