While America may never have had a king or queen ruling over it, an aristocracy of wealthy, influential power brokers nonetheless aimed to live like royalty and so set off a building spree in the late 1800s and early 20th century to display their wealth, impress friends and intimidate rivals.
Castle Building: An Aristocratic Pastime
On the east coast, shipping and railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt commissioned the construction of castle-like mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. Meanwhile, Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller built his grand home Kykuit in New York’s Hudson Valley, filling it with fine furnishings and art. Like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller, John Cleveland Osgood was a self-made man and among the wealthiest in the country at the time. His fortune was built on Colorado’s coal and steel industry.
Known as the Fuel King of the West, Osgood chose Redstone, Colorado as the location for his castle home. In addition to being able to oversee the day-to-day coal coking operations, the site offered breathtaking views and provided the kind of privacy that tycoons of his stature valued.
When Only the Best Will Do
Like his contemporaries, Osgood spared no expense on the construction and furnishing of his 42-room, 12-bathroom estate. Patterned after English manor houses in the Tudor Revival style, the castle was originally nicknamed Cleveholm Manor; “Cleve” from Osgood’s middle name and “holm” meaning a grassy hillside with a stream running through it. Because of its spectacular grandeur and picture-perfect setting, it became better known as The Redstone Castle.
See the Extraordinary Craftsmanship
The paneling in the Main Hall was created by The Stickley Company, a furniture business owned by Gustav Stickley, considered by many to be the visionary pioneer of the American Arts and Crafts movement. His influence can be seen throughout the castle.
Take note of the walls and ceilings in the main rooms and guest suites. The Osgoods devoted much time, attention and money to their adornment. In the Reception/Music Parlor Room, where ladies would have gathered after dinner, the walls are covered in pale green padded silk brocade. The hand-frescoed plaster-sculpted ceiling is a fine-art treasure. The Library features green Spanish leather embossed with a hand-stenciled peacock design that used paper-thin aluminum and was tinted with a gold wash. The Aviary Tower guest suite features a balloon ceiling, papered with birds.
The Light Fixtures
The massive light fixtures, andirons and fireplace screen in the Great Room were designed and created by Louis Tiffany of Tiffany & Co. in New York. Because these items were custom made for the Osgoods, the molds were broken upon completion to ensure there would never be any replicas.
No castle would be complete without a coat-of-arms on display. The Osgood family crest is carved in the sandstone above the fireplace in the Great Room. It depicts a lion holding a sheaf of wheat, signifying free-born landed gentry. The inscribed Latin words “Pecturo Puro” mean “Pure of Heart.” “Osgood” translates to King of the Mountain or, more commonly, Lion of Redstone.