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Celebrating 80 Years - 1944, Penrose House and the Meaning of 'El Pomar'

Tags: Legacy Properties Penrose Legacy #Celebrating80Years

Penrose House in 1920, with the Broadmoor in the background

#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.


Many philanthropic foundations bear the names of their founders, so it may not be immediately obvious why the name “El Pomar” is associated with the Penrose legacy. The answer lies in the Penrose House, Spencer and Julie Penrose’s Colorado Springs home, which now serves as a free-of-charge meeting space and conference center for nonprofit agencies and government organizations.


Grantee Spotlight:

Julie Penrose Center (now Penrose House Conference Center)

Penrose House was built in 1910 for $200,000 as the home of Ashton and Grace Goodyear Potter. Julie and Spencer Penrose purchased the house from the Potters for $75,000 in 1916 and added the second and third floors. They renamed the property “El Pomar,” which is a Catalan translation of “the orchard,” in tribute to the Dixon Apple Orchard to which the land formerly belonged. El Pomar was built in the style of a Mediterranean villa, and the grounds were designed by the Olmsted Brothers Landscape firm, influential in designing several of America’s national parks.

The Penrose House Courtyard Today

Spencer and Julie Penrose traveled frequently to exotic destinations around the world and were inspired by the finest resorts on each continent to create their own destination hotel. In 1918, The Broadmoor opened less than a mile from El Pomar, cementing the legacy of the Penroses in the Pikes Peak Region. Their affinity for travel is still present today at Penrose House, where artwork and other artifacts collected on their trips throughout the world can be found on display. 

Mr. Penrose passed away in 1939, and in 1944 Julie Penrose moved into the Broadmoor Hotel and donated El Pomar to the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. A devout Catholic throughout her life, Mrs. Penrose wanted to recognize the Sisters of Charity for their care of her husband before his death. The Sisters of Charity operated the property, renamed the Julie Penrose Center, for 48 years as a spiritual retreat.

In 1992, El Pomar Foundation purchased the house and renamed it as the Penrose House. In 1995 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and it now serves as a conference and meeting space for El Pomar Foundation staff and Colorado’s nonprofit sector— those who are doing the great work that it takes to make a positive difference throughout the state of Colorado.


El Pomar in 1944:

Led by Julie Penrose, El Pomar Foundation continued to follow trends from previous years in grant making. The Foundation granted a total $315,788 to 20 unique organizations, with the largest recipients including the Julie Penrose Center (now Penrose House), Glockner Hospital, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Fountain Valley School, and Colorado College.


Spotlight by Matt Nuñez