NOTABLE NAMES IN
RICHTHOFEN CASTLE HISTORY
NOBLE NAMES, FAMOUS FACES
More than one hundred and thirty years of families, friends, and historic guests have lived, worked, and played inside the Richthofen Castle. Here are just a few of the more famous faces that we know of today.
BARON WALTER VON RICHTHOFEN
Baron Walter von Richthofen was an illustrious 19th-century entrepreneur who founded the Denver Chamber of Commerce, established Montclair, Colorado and built the Richthofen Castle.He was born in 1848 in Kriesentiz, Silesia (now Poland) to an aristocratic German family whose lineage also includes Frederick von Richthofen, a famed scientist and geographer, Else von Richthofen, one of Germany’s first female social scientists, Frieda Lawrence, née Von Richthofen, who married novelist D.H. Lawrence, and Manfred von Richthofen, the flying ace fighter pilot known as “the Red Baron” who became famous during WWI.
GERTRUDE GIBSON PATTERSON
Once called “the most beautiful woman in America,” Gertrude Gibson Patterson became the focus of one of Colorado’s most infamous trials after she shot her abusive husband in broad daylight on the grounds of the Richthofen Castle. Although she was later acquitted of his murder, the salacious details of the case continue to inspire rumors, articles, at least one book, and a whole bunch of Richthofen-related ghost stories.
JULES JACQUES BENOIT BENEDICT
Jules Jacques Benoit Benedict was one of the most prominent Denver architects of the early 20th century. After studying architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts, he moved to Denver and developed a talent for working with a range of architectural styles and melding them in with the natural landscape. He became well-known for his work on homes, churches, public buildings, and academic institutions, including the Richthofen Castle’s south wing, among other places now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
PRINCESS ZITA OF BOURBON-PARMA, EMPRESS CONSORT OF AUSTRIA, QUEEN OF HUNGARY
The last monarch of Austria-Hungary, Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma, Empress Consort of Austria and Queen of Hungary (among other titles), was born to a noble Italian family and married the heir to the Austrian throne. She was crowned alongside her husband in Budapest in 1916 but was exiled by revolutionaries by 1921. During World War II, she left Europe for North America where she toured the United States and Canada to raise funds for her war-ravaged home. There are rumors that during that tour, she stayed at the Richthofen Castle and was entertained by Etienne Perenyi, the Hungarian nobleman who owned the property at the time.
Peter Jackson is a New Zealand film director, producer, and screenwriter, famous for directing J.R.R Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and The Hobbit Trilogy among other notable films. Although we aren’t sure how much time Peter Jackson spent at the castle, we do know that he’s a big fan of the Richthofen family — particularly, the Red Baron. He acquired a significant portion of the World War I memorabilia that Gerry and Esther Priddy collected and stored at the castle when they owned the property.
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore
GOVERNOR JON HICKENLOOPER
John Hickenlooper is a businessman and politician who served as the 42nd governor of Colorado from 2011-2019. We were proud to host him in the first year we opened the grounds to the community for Halloween in 2012. He came dressed as Batman, which felt fitting for our annual spooky event!
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore
NEXT: ARCHITECTURE AND GARDENS
Learn more about the iconic buildings and award-winning gardens of the Richthofen Castle — and the work we’re doing to save this important piece of gilded age architecture.