Redstone Castle a finalist on state endangered list
Colorado Preservation, Inc. compiles the list annually to call attention to historic sites that are in jeopardy.
The castle, seized by the Internal Revenue Service last March in connection with a federal wire and securities fraud investigation, faces an uncertain future. The IRS case will be the subject of a status conference before a federal magistrate in Denver on Jan. 12.
Preservation enthusiasts fear the stately mansion could be sold at auction to the highest bidder and closed to the public, or its elegant furnishings sold off in piecemeal fashion. And, the castle is recognized as a key tourist attraction for the one-time coal mining town of Redstone, located south of Carbondale.
The castle was among 47 nominations to the 2004 Most Endangered Places list, according to Mark Rodman, Colorado Preservation’s executive director.
The property has made the cut to 14 finalists, which will be considered for inclusion on the list when the organization holds its annual meeting in February.
The primary goal of the list is to call attention to threatened historic resources and garner public support for their preservation, Rodman said.
“With the castle, it’s not so much because we think the building is in danger of being destroyed, but because it is up for public sale at some point,” he said.
“The buyer could buy the castle and make it a private residence,” said Darrell Munsell, president of the Redstone Historical Society. “We would prefer, of course, to have public access.”
The historical society, working with agencies such as the Colorado Historical Society and the National Trust, is making recommendations to the IRS in hopes of securing some guarantee of continued public access to the lavishly appointed mansion when it is sold, Munsell said.
Attorney Peter Martin of Redstone is representing the local historical society and has filed a motion to intervene in the federal case. The magistrate has accepted that motion, giving the group a voice in the castle’s fate.
“My goal is to encourage periodic public access,” Martin said.
The castle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and preservation advocates want to make sure the court takes into account provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act, Martin added. The legislation requires that steps be taken to ensure the castle’s continued preservation and use.
The Redstone Historical Society is hoping to find a buyer for the castle who will preserve the mansion and its contents and open its doors for public use.
“We have just begun the process of putting out some feelers to what we call a ‘white knight,’ ” Munsell said. “What we’d like to do is go out and put out information in hopes of attracting the attention of a philanthropic buyer.”
One hurdle, he said, is no price has been set for the 42-room Tudor-style mansion. The IRS has retained a Philadelphia appraiser to determine its market value, Munsell said.
Martin is also advocating a structural assessment of the property to determine what repairs need to be made.
Coal baron John Cleveland Osgood built Cleveholm Manor between 1899 and 1902 for roughly $2.5 million. It overlooks what was his industrial village of Redstone. Osgood entertained such notables as John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and President Theodore Roosevelt there.
In more recent years, the castle served as a private residence, was operated as a bed-and-breakfast, and has been open for public tours and weddings.
The IRS allowed public tours of the castle last summer and is expected to do so again next year if the property is still in the government’s possession, according to Munsell.
Complicating the fate of the castle is a Securities and Exchange Commission case, which also lays claim to the property, filed in civil court in Florida.
Martin said he and other preservationists in Colorado are urging the court to determine the castle’s disposition in Denver rather than Florida.
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