Tom Simmons presented "Documenting William Jackson Palmer's 'Little London" at the 2015 Southwest Social Science Association meeting in Denver on 9 April. In establishing Colorado Springs in 1871, Denver and Rio Grande Railroad magnate William Jackson Palmer sought to make it “the most attractive place in the West for homes—a place for schools, colleges, literature, science, first-class newspapers and everything the above imply.” Palmer, who resided on a nearby estate, Glen Eyrie, envisioned the city as a health and pleasure resort for his friends and like-minded inhabitants drawn from the moneyed classes of the East and Europe. Attracting scores of English immigrants, the community soon earned the nickname “Little London” and capitalized on its healthy climate, scenic location at the base of 14,210’ Pikes Peak, and such nearby attractions as the Garden of the Gods and mineral hot springs. The original townsite included land for two large parks and a site for an institution of higher learning, the latter occupied in 1874 by Colorado College. An impressive array of buildings emerged, often featuring Colorado materials and designed by distinguished local architects and noted Eastern firms. When an 1890s mining boom at Cripple Creek produced more than two dozen Colorado Springs millionaires, many used their wealth to develop substantial business blocks, erect elaborate mansions, and undertake philanthropic endeavors supporting the culture of Colorado Springs. Since 1996 Front Range Research Associates, a Denver historic preservation consulting firm, has documented properties embodying the architectural and historical significance of Colorado Springs for the city and Colorado College. This presentation will examine how the city’s sense of place, shaped by Palmer’s original vision, is seen in properties such as the Colorado College campus, Van Briggle Art Pottery, Monument Valley Park, First Congregational Church, and Colorado Springs City Hall.
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