Listed in 2010 to the Colorado’s Most Endangered Places List for development pressure, the Willowcroft Manor & Farm, located in the Town of Columbine Valley, is dangerously close to succumbing to those pressures.
Added to the Colorado State Register of Historic Places in 1993, Willowcroft Farm is rich in both architectural significance and social history. Pioneer, politician and one of the most important early settlers in the Littleton area, Joseph W. Bowles, hired noted Denver architect Robert Roeschlaub (known for the Central City Opera House,Trinity Methodist Church in Denver, and the Chamberlin Observatory) to design the main house in 1884. The house still stands, as does a bunkhouse, a smokehouse, the horse barn and a large two story barn that was originally built to house a dance hall and speakeasy in the 1920s. The main house, which is constructed out of rose-colored lava stone quarried in Castle Rock, was intended to be an architectural and technological showpiece. A newspaper article from 1884 reported that the house was “furnished with hot and cold water on every floor, heated by furnaces and lighted by gas made on the premises. Nothing has been omitted that could add to the comfort and convenience of the household.” The article later added, “It is one of the most elegant residences in the state… and is a fitting home for pioneers who have built up the country and their own fortunes and a charming family.” It is reported that Willowcroft Farm is the only remaining historically significant property within the city limits of Columbine Valley.
The Farm, at its height, included several thousand acres, but now just over nine acres remain. Willowcroft is surrounded on two sides by a neighborhood of multimillion dollar homes, which results in significant development pressure. While still livable, the main house is suffering from deferred maintenance, as are the barns and other outbuildings.
Taylor Morrison has purchased the parcel of land which Willowcroft sits on as well as the northern “Grimm” parcel with a plan to construct 41 “Patio Homes” on the site with no sensitivity to the historic fabric.
After attending a Public Planning & Zoning meeting, Colorado Preservation, Inc. is working with concerned community members to put pressure on the Board of Trustees and Taylor Morrison to decrease density of the development and preserve the Historic Manor and Farmhouse. It is in these instances where a community banded together can make a great impact.