The Jewel of Crystal Valley

This turn-of-the-century jewel was completed in 1902 for industrialist and coal magnate John Cleveland Osgood. At the time, Osgood was one of the wealthiest people in the United States (purportedly ranking 6th) and rubbed elbows with the rich and powerful. John D. Rockefeller, J. Pierpont Morgan and Teddy Roosevelt all spent time at the estate. It is also known as Osgood Castle and Cleveholm Manor, its original name.

Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, the Castle provides a unique glimpse into the personal styles and social culture of America’s elite at the turn of the 20th Century. Built in the Tudor style, the Castle is filled with the finest furnishings of the period: wooden paneling designed by Gustav Stickley, intricately cast brass globe lights created by Louis Tiffany, and countless pieces of furniture and artwork collected by the Osgoods on their frequent trips to Europe.

Cleveholm Manor

Construction of a mansion on the Crystal River also began in 1899. The mansion was named Cleveholm Manor, using his nickname, Cleve, and holm meaning “alongside a river.” The Castle was built as a hunting retreat, and constructed of large stone blocks hand-cut and quarried from the nearby sandstone cliffs. No expense was spared as the finest craftsmen of the era built the towering mansion on a sloping hillside in the Crystal River valley.

Entering the Castle today is like entering another time. The main residence offers 23,000 sq. ft. of living space, with 66 rooms that range from an English-style Great Hall and a Russian-inspired formal dining room to a delicate Ladies’ Drawing Room decorated in the French style of the era. Oversized claw-foot bathtubs grace the bathrooms, and Persian carpets embellish the floors. An estimated 60% of the original furnishings remain at the Castle today.

The Life of John Cleveland Osgood

John Cleveland Osgood was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 6, 1851. Orphaned as a youth, he lived with relatives in Connecticut and Rhode Island. As a boy, he worked as an office clerk for a textile firm in Providence, Rhode Island, and later as a bookkeeper for the William Ladd Produce Commission in New York City.

In 1878, Osgood purchased the Whitebreast Coal and Mining Company in Burlington, Iowa, and became the company’s president. Whitebreast was a chief supplier of coal for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad. At the request of Quincy Railroad, Osgood headed to Colorado in 1882 to investigate reports of rich coal deposits in the Rockies.

They struck the mother lode. In 1883, Osgood and three associates from Iowa — Julian Abbot Kebler, Alfred Curtis Cass, and David C. Beaman — organized the Colorado Fuel Company (CFC) to develop new coal resources in the state.

Industrial Paternalism and the End of an Era

With an amazing flurry of activity, the building of the coke ovens, the village of Redstone, and Cleveholm Manor were completed by 1902. Osgood retained the Denver architectural firm of Boal and Harnois to design the mansion and the estate buildings as well as the village’s public buildings, workers’ cottages, and houses for the managers and supervisors.

Redstone, dubbed “The Ruby of the Rockies,” was the “grand” model village built to showcase Osgood’s sociological experiment with industrial paternalism. Industrial paternalism was a labor-management strategy advocated by leading professional social scientists and reformers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a way to address the problems of modern industrialism. Osgood adopted the policy not only as a way to improve living and working conditions for the company’s coke workers and miners but also as a way to combat unionism.

CF&I’s modernization and expansion program exhausted the company’s capital and Redstone gradually shut down, with only a small caretaker and railroad staff remaining until 1924. Even the village’s founder and patron left Redstone and his beloved Cleveholm in 1911, not to return permanently until the fall of 1924. He resided there with his third wife Lucille until his death in early January 1926.

Irene Osgood

Nonie Irene de Belote married John Osgood in 1877. He was ten years older but he was, of course, a multi-millionaire. Irene was born on a plantation in Virginia, even though she also claimed on occasion that she was born in England.

One of her passports showed that she was born in 1861. She later changed her birthdate to 1866, then 1869, then 1875. She was a young socialite writer of purple prose. John created a publishing company to publish her books and those of her friends. She prided herself on being an author of poetry and a novel named Shadow of Desire. Her novel was reviewed by the New York Times and they concluded that, “The book is as unwholesome as any they have had the bad fortune to read.”

She did not let her marriage interfere with her lifestyle, which involved traveling in Europe with her author friends. At about the time that John began planning the construction for their mansion, Irene chose to run off with Captain Charles Harvey. John circulated the story that she had been killed by a runaway horse in Central Park in New York. They divorced in 1899 and had no children.

Alma Osgood (Lady Bountiful)

Alma Regina Shelgrem originally met John at the court of King Leopold of Belgium. While it is reputed that Alma was Swedish countess, there is no historical evidence to back this up. They married in 1899, three months after his divorce from Irene. Alma was in her late 20s at the time and John was 48.

Alma was genuinely concerned about the welfare of the people in Redstone. She purchased the latest fashions to have in the Company Store and was very influential in the curriculum at the school. At Christmas, she had the children in town write a letter to Santa Claus to ask for one gift, and then they traveled to Chicago to purchase an item for each child. For her generosity, she was proudly nick-named Lady Bountiful by the townspeople.

When World War I broke out, Alma was asked by a French Hospital Organization to help with the war effort so she went to France. John divorced her for desertion in 1920. They had no children.

Lucille Osgood

Lucille Reid met Cleve in his travels and they were married in 1920. She came from Oakland, California and was 25 years old when they married. John was in his 70s by then and still had a great deal of money. They hired 165 workmen to repair and refurbish the castle and the grounds. They also worked on the Inn and the town. By 1925, everything was close to its original condition.

John’s health was deteriorating, and it turned out that he was gravely ill with cancer. He died in January of 1926 in the bedroom of the castle that he loved, at the age of 75. Lucille continued to run his many business interests. She tried to keep Redstone alive as a tourist resort but they were in the middle of the Great Depression by then, and many of the cottages were torn down for lumber or to get them off of the tax rolls. Lucille sold Cleveholm Manor in 1940.

John and Lucille had no children, and Lucille claimed that he never wanted them. Lucille was instructed to burn all of John’s personal papers after his death.

The Redstone Castle Experience

This historic 118-year-old Colorado castle is restored and now open as a boutique hotel. Be our guest and experience life as the barons of yesteryear lived it.