The Richthofen Castle is a 14,938 sq ft., 38-room mansion with eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms, five fireplaces, a bar, a library, a billiards room, two sunrooms, a music alcove, servants’ quarters and a butler’s pantry. The 2.5-acre property also includes a gatehouse that we believe Baron von Richthofen built and stayed in while his castle was being completed.
The building is particularly known for its porte-cochère (“coach gateway”) that allows people to enter and exit vehicles without stepping out into inclement weather. It’s also known for the tall stone tower that features the historic Richthofen Coat of Arms. On the Northwest corner of the building, there’s a two-foot-high red sandstone bust of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor who is credited with uniting Germany.
A STRONG FOUNDATION
The original, 21-room castle was built for Baron Walter von Richthofen and was completed in 1886. The property was intended as a show home for Richthofen’s Montclair neighborhood development project as well as a private residence for the baron and his family.
Researchers believe that the original castle was designed by architect Alexander Cazin and that the blueprint was inspired by the castles of the baron’s childhood, including Prince Wilhelm’s Castle Karpnicki, in what is now Poland.
Later renovations by Maurice Bisleow Biscoe and Henry Harwood Hewitt in the 1910s, and Jules Jacques Benoit Benedict in the 1920s, added a Tudor-style facade to the exterior, expanded the building’s footprint, and refinished the interior with sumptuous materials. Both the original castle and the additions are made from rhyolite, a lava rock that is quarried from Castle Rock, Colorado, and rarely seen in home construction.
When we renovated the kitchen, we sourced the same rock (from the same quarry!) to use on the interior walls so that the new room matched the castle’s foundation.
The interiors of the Richthofen Castle include hand-carved woodwork, leaded glass windows, and beautiful parquet floors. Although many of the original fixtures were sold in the mid-20th century, there is a single brass chandelier that’s original to the home that now hangs in a place of honor in our dining room. Many of the fixtures, while not original to the house, date back to the time that it was built.
There are three communication systems in the house, and all of the original units are still intact (though no longer in working order). A few have pearlized buttons that were part of a call system for servants. In the bedrooms, there are handsets for a phone call system, and a third system has dials that spin to show which room is calling at any given moment. Because everything is low-voltage, it’s a challenge to figure out how to get them all working again, but we have our electrician on the case!
During our renovations, we also uncovered some interesting elements of the castle that had long been covered up. We found a previously-unknown fireplace in the kitchen and brought it back to working order. Working within the castle tower, while restoring roof access to the building, we discovered stairs that had long been hidden by layers of more modern ceilings. We think it might mean that the baron used the tower for observational purposes (or maybe for hunting!) long before the space was turned into a bathroom.
Because of its beauty and historic importance to the region, the Richthofen Castle was the first officially designated Denver landmark registered castle in 1973. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and is considered a foundational part of the Montclair Historic District.