A visit to the Pikes Peak region of Colorado wouldn’t be complete without exploring Miramont Castle.
Father Jean Baptiste Francolon came to the US from his native France in 1873. Here, he served as secretary to Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In 1886, he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Guatemala and Venezuela by the French government. The mission took a told on Father Francolon’s health. As a result, he was transferred to Manitou Springs in 1892, so he could have access to the area’s mineral waters.
While convalescing in Manitou Springs, Father Francolon wrote to his mother, telling her that the area he was staying in reminded him of his homeland. Marie Francolon wrote him immediately and wired funds for him to build a home for her.
Father Francolon decided to design the home of his dreams. He contracted the services of the well-known Gillis brothers to build the home. The design included nine very distinct architectural styles. The house consisted of 15,000 square feet and 46 rooms. Father Francolon and his mother moved into Miramont Castle in 1895.
In 1976, Manitou Springs Historical initiated restoration of Miramont Castle. The restoration project is ongoing. A section just off Montcalm Chapel has recently been restored to the original condition of Father Francolon’s smoking room. Marie Francolon’s bedroom is being fully restored to its original condition. Restoration will continue on the Castle until such time as it is truly original once more.
Miramont Castle Mysteries
There is an air of mystery that hovers over Miramont Castle. Around 1900, Father Francolon and his mother left their home abruptly. Marie returned to France before March 1900 and died within a short time. The activities and whereabouts of Father Francolon between 1900 and December 1922 remain a mystery. Father Francolon died on December 4, 1922 in New York City. The reason for the Francolon’s unexpected departure and Father Francolon’s obscurity over the period of 22 years has never been discovered and remains a mystery that may never be solved.
Touring Miramont Castle
Miramont Castle is a maze of hallways and rooms that are built at odd angles. When you enter the Castle, you step into a foyer that takes you back in time to the Victorian era. As you walk the halls and explore the rooms, you can see that Miramont is stuck in the time warp of the late 19th century. The entire Castle has a spine tingling atmosphere and many visitors and staff have reported paranormal activity and the presence of spirits.
The fireplace that is located in the drawing room is magnificent and weighs 400,000 pounds. Be sure to visit the miniature museum for a stunning display of miniatures from bygone days. From there, take the servant’s staircase to the second floor or visit the drawing room parlor, the music room and the tearoom.
The second floor has a sixteen-sided guest bedroom, which visitors find to be fascinating. The Grand Staircase is magnificent and guests can climb to the third story or descend to the main level. Other interesting displays include Father Francolon’s Indian and Manitou artifacts, a model of Sacred Heart Church and the model of the Independence Building.
Miramont Castle has both summer and winter entrances, servant’s quarters, the Queen’s Tea Room, the butler’s pantry and the solarium. Marie Francolon’s rooms consist of a bathroom with an original chain-pull commode, a sitting room and Marie’s bedroom. The bed that Mrs. Francolon slept in once belonged to Josephine Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister.
Step into the Castle gardens for a breathtaking view. The beautiful wildflower meadow with a backdrop of the majestic mountains is both stunning and a favorite spot for visitors.
Miramont Castle is an attraction that piques the interest of people of all ages and all walks of life. Whether those interests are architecture, history, the paranormal, or just exploring, Miramont Castle will provide you with mystery, intrigue and enjoyment.