Southwest Springs Connections: Penrose Heritage Museum a gem in our backyard
Across from The Broadmoor Hotel lies a hidden gem. The Penrose Heritage Museum displays its namesake Spencer and Julie Penrose’s personal collection of artifacts, from vintage carriages to memorabilia from The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
The modestly sized museum displays a surprising amount of the philanthropists’ vast assortment of relics for up-close viewing pleasure. The collection includes 30 carriages, 15 race cars that have competed in the famed “Race to the Clouds,” and Native American artifacts and more through its Carriage, Western Heritage and Pikes Peak Hill Climb Experience galleries. The museum seamlessly blends regional history and the Penrose legacy into one neat package, free to visitors.
The carriages are stylish, graceful, elegant and remarkable in size. All are in original condition, many from the late 1800s. There are also several large and ornate safes to admire, featuring typical Victorian-era hand-painted landscapes on their doors, trimmed with gold borders. The Chas L. Tutt Safe circa 1885, once owned by Spencer Penrose’s childhood friend-turned-business-partner Charles L. Tutt, weighs a staggering 4,800 pounds. Each door weighs 500 pounds. I wouldn’t be able to get in if I tried.
Upstairs in the Western Heritage Gallery, I was floored by the detailed beauty of several Native American clothing pieces and headdresses. The display of an Oglala Sioux feather headdress, for instance, features a magnificent cascade of young Golden eagle feathers and rabbit fur ear drops. It “was a badge worn by veteran warriors and war chiefs,” according to its museum label. “During the reservation period headdresses became more ornamental. Plains Indians added trade items like glass beads, dyed feathers and cloth to their headdresses made with traditional materials of deerskin and feathers.”
I was on next to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Experience, which preserves the history of the world-famous race up America’s Mountain established by Spencer Penrose in 1916. I strolled through its display of 15 race cars that have summited the peak during in the last 100 years of the competition. The contest was originally established to publicize the Pikes Peak Highway, offering $2,000 in cash — the equivalent of just under $47,000 today — to the winner of the “Open Class” for unlimited cubic inch displacement.
I encourage residents and visitors alike to check out this wonderful museum. Admission and parking is free, and the museum is open seven days a week at 11 Lake Circle. For more information, visit elpomar.org/museum or call 719-577-7065.