Glen Eyrie Castle

3820 North 30th Street, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Built from 1871, for General William Jackson Palmer (1836-1909) and his wife "Queen" Mary Lincoln Mellen (1850-1894). It started life as a frame house but after Palmer sold the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad for $6 million in 1901 he retired here and by 1904 had converted the original house into this 67-room castle in memory of his adored "Queen". Covering 33,000-square feet, Glen Eyrie was designed by architect Frederick J. Sterner and engineer Edmond Van Dienst. Sadly, the thin air had not agreed with "Queen" and she and their daughters leased Ightham Mote in England before her death in 1894. Neither would Palmer enjoy the castle for long: just two years later he was paralyzed in a horse-riding accident and died three years later in 1909....

This house is best associated with...

William Jackson Palmer

General William J. Palmer, Railroad Magnate & Founder of Colorado Springs


Mary (Mellen) Palmer

"Queen Palmer" Mary Lincoln (Mellen) Palmer of Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs


Alexander Smith Cochran

Alexander Smith Cochran, Yachtsman, of New York City


Ganna Walska

"Madame Ganna Walska" of Lotusland, California; Singer, Actress & Romantic


His daughters offered it to the city but they politely declined on account of running costs. It was then purchased by a consortium of businessmen who intended to transform it into a country club/golf course with further housing. War put a halt to those plans and it was briefly operated as a tea room until 1918 when it was then sold for $450k to "the richest bachelor in New York" and founder of Yale's Elizabethan Club, Alexander Smith Cochran.

In 1920, Cochran became the third of the six husbands of the truly extraordinary, and notoriously bad opera singer, Ganna Walska, whose terrible voice - but total self-belief in her 'talents' - found her parodied in Citizen Kane. They divided their time between here, New York City, and Brookholt which was built by one of the most prolific mansion-builders in the Gilded Age, Mrs Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. Not long after divorcing Ganna, Cochran closed up the castle and spent $100,000 building the Pink House on the sunny-side of the valley but he spent little time there and died in New York in 1929.

The castle remained unoccupied during the Depression but it and the surrounding farmland was maintained by a skeleton staff presumably paid for out of Cochran's estate up until 1938. That year, it was sold to Texas oilman George W. Strake for $200,000. He expanded the Pink House and after making the necessary renovations opened up the castle once more as a venue for parties. He also did some ranching on the property. 

In 1953, Strake sold the castle for a reduced price of $300,000 to "The Navigators," a Christian evangelical ministry who continue to operate the estate today as a Christian conference and retreat center, hosting about 350-events and 46,000-visitors per year. 

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 29/12/2020 and last updated on 07/02/2021.
Courtesy of David Marvin,, CC, Flickr


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