Thursday, June 17, 2010

Interior Tales of a Neighborhood Haunt Part Two

Richtofen Castle encompasses nearly 15,000 sf of German aristocratic opulence.
It has 35 rooms including 6 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms
(imagine the house guests that you couldn't get rid of?)

The castle was designed after the von Richtofen castle in Germany.
It was completed in 1887 and serves as a private residence today.
It might be a nice place to raise a family-think of it-plenty of "time out" space-you may not see your children for days and plenty to decorate while still giving dear husband his man cave. Wouldn't want to clean it though ;-)

This lush abode boasts original leaded glass windows and doors,
gold and silver inlaid leather wallpaper, an oak paneled entry hall,
and a parquet-floored music room that seats 150 listeners.

Okay all of you Harry Potter fans-
the castle is known to have several secret passages and doors.
Makes you curious doesn't it?

One of the more recent castle occupants stated
"It's just an incredible place...
We had some of the best Halloween parties anyone could ever throw.
There were decorations in every room...
when you walked up to the front gate the party began."
What an incredibly fascinating childhood that must have been.

The distinguished gentlemen himself,
Baron Walter von Richtofen.

CREDIT: Portions of this post were taken directly from an article by Lori Tobias, Rocky Mountain News.
The interior photographs can be found at

In all of my research on the castle down the street-
one of the most lasting images for me exists in a quote from a recent caretaker
"I used to go home at night and sit in my recliner and wonder what he (Baron von Richtofen) used to think.
He sat in that same room.
You were in another world, you really were."

Have a wonderful night all of you Barons and Baronesses out there!
wherever you are...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Neighborhood Haunts (literally) Part One

Two blocks down and around the corner from our "castle"
is a rather famous and notoriously haunted house.

Richtofen Castle was built by the uncle and godfather of
World War I flying ace, "The Red Baron"

Rumor has it that in 1911
"The Most Beautiful Woman in America", Gertrude Patterson,
shot her husband two times in the back-leaving his body on the front lawn-
in what she claims was an act of self defense.
After her acquittal it is said that she booked a passage on the ill fated Titanic
and went down with the ship.

In fact a lot more mayhem, obsession, corruption and sex scandals
are alleged to have occurred here
(and we thought it was a quiet family oriented neighborhood ;-)
All of which are described in Robert Hardaway's book Alienation of Affection.
Hmm...I wonder if it comes in an audio book?

Anyway...more about Walter von Richtofen.
He built the hand-hewn limestone castle in 1877 for his second wife, Louise Ferguson.
Louise was not fond of the castle's prairie setting and took up residence at the historic
Brown Palace Hotel.
The grounds of the castle were spruced up to entice Louise to return.
The Baron brought in canaries, deer, antelope and many, many trees.
The landscape included a moat with a stone bridge, a dairy (or Molkery),
a tunnel to stables, and a lush garden.

While Baron von Richtofen had hopes of creating a German spa on the 320 acre lot
- (in 1888, he unveiled a "Swiss milk cure" that he believed would cure tuberculosis)-
the story has a sad ending.
During the Panic of 1893 and on the brink of the Spanish-American war, the Baron and his wife failed to open the new health spa and hotel they had planned instead resorting to selling books from the tailgate of a wagon to cover their expenses. Walter von Richtofen died on May 8, 1898. Louise lived until 1934.
She sold the castle in 1903 and lived the rest of her life in hotels.

**The information presented in this post came from two articles on the web at Walter von Richtofen the Red Baron's American Uncle and http://www.haunted

The first three photographs are also from the web articles. While the last two photographs that I took while walking my dog around the neighborhood.

Tomorrow I will post photographs of the inside of the castle and tell its story.

Have a wonderful night wherever you are.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gardening 101

"Flowers...are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844

As promised-below is the reality of how I imagined the two hanging baskets that are pictured in the photograph with our new front door and other treasured items (yesterday's post).

I must say that my vision did not include quite so much spanish moss but practicality in getting baskets full of holes to hold potting soil and flowers requires it ;-) I also feel that a little more height in the flowers would have helped balance the grand quantity of moss.

Still-not bad-since the woman at Extras threw in the baskets for free.

I am undergoing another garden project this weekend.

I am planting some ground cover around the base of an apple tree in our front yard.
Perhaps-all of this practice will make my thumb green after all!
I will settle with light green ;-)

Enjoy your night...wherever you are.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Treasure Hunting

One of my favorite things to do is to find old things and repurpose them-some in the way they were meant to be used and some in a completely different imaginative sort of way.

There are some people whose imaginations soar when finding ways to use old pieces-like those who work (or should I say create) in a shop called Old Glory Antiques just outside of Denver, Colorado. The above image is an example of the wonderful treasures you will find. My imagination flutters just thinking about it ;-)

Above is another dreamy image from Old Glory Antiques. You will be transported to the website by clicking on the title of this post. we get to the treasures that my husband and I found over the weekend. As I mentioned in a previous post-we are working on improving the curb appeal of our house. He likes the old craftsman bungalow style and I prefer a more formal east coast shake shingle style. The good news is both styles are pretty compatible (in the design sense that is). The bad news is that we live in a 1960s ranch ;-)

Have you figured out that we also both love a good challenge?

We purchased this glorious front door-with a dentil mold shelf and beautifully preserved stained glass. After a good stripping, sanding and couple of coats of dark wood stain we will have the perfect entrance to our craftsman bungalow-or is that our shingled cottage?

Here is a close up of the dentil mold and stained glass. We picked this up at Extras Building Materials -another wonderful place for more primitive architectural pieces and used or surplus building materials on the cheap in Denver.

Curious to know what I am doing with the other items in the photograph with the door? Stay tuned and I will post the completed project tomorrow.

Until then....

Friday, June 4, 2010

Indoor Gardens

Some of the most fascinating and beautiful "gardens" are the ones that we create inside.

Elements of nature make the best decorative accessories. I really like the idea of these beehive light pendants (sans the bees of course ;-)

Ah... birdcages and seashells-sea and sky. I believe that if I could fly-I would take this room with me.

Truly bringing the garden (and potting shed) indoors!

If you can't sleep under the stars-you might as well doze off under these lovely wildflower botanicals.

To Give Credit Where Credit is Due
-The images in this post came from Country Living Magazine, 2009; from House Beautiful Magazine, and from Maine Home and Design.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Desk Daydreams

My Summer Thoughts Always Drift Towards Maine

There are moments (typically after I have been sitting at my desk in front of a computer for several hours) when I drift off and imagine myself lazily dangling off of a hammock tied in between two large and blooming pagoda dogwoods (I can almost smell the salty Atlantic and feel the periodic mist of the tide)...

-image from Better Home & Gardens, July 2009

...or linger amid the well worn canoe oars and fly fishing rods haphazardly stored in an old tin umbrella stand.

-image from Country Living Magazine, June 2010

Where do you go?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Shake Shingle Splendor

Visions of Grandeur
Canvas for visions of grandeur

The three day weekend and beautifully warm days allowed us to sweep the winter dust off of the back porch and set up for summer. There is nothing like lounging in a newly dusted armchair, feeling the soft evening "not quite summer yet" breeze and dreaming into the moonlight.

What was I dreaming of-you may wonder. Actually, I was thinking of how to improve the curb appeal of what we would like to be our splendid shake shingle cottage but is currently our not so chic mid-century modern canvas. Quite a challenge I am afraid. But as everyone knows you have to start somewhere. My thoughts are to start with a new front door, (we found a beauty on Craigslist-a solid wood charmer with leaded glass and original hardware), a new mailbox, new lights to frame the entrance, a sailor's knot welcome mat and two very long flower boxes. Stay tuned- I will post the "after" shots soon.