This fascinating estate was right across the street from our Airbnb in the tiny mountain town of Palmer Lake, Colorado. According to what I’ve been able to find out online, it’s called the Estemere Mansion, and it was built in 1887 by a dentist from Baltimore named William Finley Thompson. He was hoping that the Palmer Lake area would become a tourist destination, and that people would be looking for luxurious estates, so he built a 7.000 square-foot mansion with 18 rooms — including eleven bedrooms — and six fireplaces, on an estate that includes a large garden, a carriage house and a chapel. He eventually went bankrupt and moved back to the Baltimore area.
In 1898, Eben Smith, who made his fortune in gold milling, bought the estate for $5,000. It was primarily a residence, though during the 1920s and ’30s it was also the site of a number of schools, including one for the underprivileged students and one for children with special needs. Roger and Kim Ward bought the property in 1998, and it underwent significant renovations, including the addition of structural support, new carpeting and flooring, a new gas furnace, and an entrance into the tower. The Wards put the estate up for sale in 2020 for $2.5 million, after Kim started suffering from dementia, but I haven’t been able to find out whether it sold or not, and if so to whom.