Castle tours take visitors back in time
Vail, CO, COLORADO
REDSTONE ” The walls of the Redstone Castle’s second floor are lined with yellow linen wallpaper stenciled with pineapple designs.
“The pineapple is the universal sign of welcome and hospitality,” said Sue McEvoy, the castle’s caretaker and tour guide.
The cheery design element is one example of how Swedish countess Alma Regina Shelgrem ” also known as “Lady Bountiful” by residents of Redstone ” opened her home to visitors. Shelgrem was married to coal and steel magnate John Cleveland Osgood, who built the castle, and named it Cleveholm Manor, in the early 1900s.
“All the workers in town referred to her as Lady Bountiful because of her generosity,” said McEvoy, as she led Friday’s tour for 16 visitors. “She made sure all the ladies could have all the latest fashions in the country store.”
Lady Bountiful’s story, and the history of the 42-room Tudor-style Redstone Castle, are being retold during the tours that resumed Friday. For the last few years, the tours were put on hold as the castle was auctioned off to part-time Aspenite Ralli Dimitrius for $4 million in March 2005. Tours start at 1:30 p.m. Fridays through Mondays.
Tours exhibit how the castle has been restored to its original grandeur.
McEvoy has worked at the Redstone Castle for 11 years, and knows the ins-and-outs of the property. She tells of the castle’s interior “peeping window,” a rectangular window that allowed Lady Bountiful a view of the Great Room as guests arrived to her home.
“If Alma looked out the peeping window and saw a woman dressed down she herself would dress down so that woman would fit in,” McEvoy said.
Each room in the castle tells a story.
“The house was actually designed as a hunting cottage,” McEvoy said. “It was originally on 550 acres.”
From the elephant-hide, gold-leaf wallpaper in the Persian-themed study to the Tiffany lamps hanging elegantly from the Great Room ceiling, details were everything to Lady Bountiful and her wealthy husband. The formal dining room is designed in the style of a Russian Tea Room, complete with red velvet wall coverings and mahogany wood.
“Each room has a European theme to show their travels throughout Europe,” McEvoy said.
Throughout the home, black-and-white images of Osgood’s three wives, along with colorful paintings by Redstone artist Jack Roberts, illustrate 100 years of history.
One of Roberts’ paintings shows Osgood at dinner, festively entertaining guests.
“John only dined with guests of eight or more,” McEvoy said. “With no head of the table.”
The faint smell of cigars still lingers in the basement level of the castle. There, a game room with a billiards table, roulette wheel and card tables entertained Osgood and his male guests as they enjoyed an after-dinner brandy and a smoke. The women retired to the music room, a French-motif design that features an Italian Carrera marble fireplace and two diamond dust mirrors, which were blown to never lose their reflective finish.
“In 1902-1903, you would come for the season, six weeks at a time,” McEvoy said. “During the hunt or for the Christmas season, Alma’s favorite time to entertain.”
McEvoy enjoys relaying the intimate details of the Redstone Castle’s history, such as the flowering bushes near the Crystal River that runs through the property.
“Those were Alma’s lilac bushes,” she said. “And they only bloom every three or four years, so we’re lucky.”
Leading tours at Redstone Castle and sharing Redstone’s past with others are important to McEvoy, a member of the Redstone Historical Society.
“It’s been a passion for me,” she said. “Redstone and this place deserve to be protected and preserved.”
The Redstone community and business owners urged the castle’s new owner to resume the castle tours, McEvoy said. The decision to bring back the tours pleases Melissa Baker, of the Redstone Inn, which Osgood built in 1902.
“Everyone loves it,” Baker said. “The castle is like the landmark of Redstone. The castle’s the reason a lot of people come here, then they come into town and just take their time, looking around.”
And take a trip back in time.
Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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