The Plews House to the Fly’N B Ranch

1906-2004

Area Location:  Northwest Corner of Highlands Ranch

Matthew Plews was another early landowner in the northern Douglas County area.  He was a talented horticulturalist, who  worked as a master groundskeeper at Wolhurst, just to the west of today’s Santa Fe and C470. Plews built a home in 1906 for his family on land that today is a bit south of C470 and east of Santa Fe and Windcrest.   

This c.1910 picture of the Plews house shows the farm without the many trees that surround it today.  Plews had large greenhouses and ran a thriving business in the Littleton area, as well as being very actively socially and in the community.  He was known as the “Johnny Appleseed” of Douglas and Arapahoe County, and was even hired to plant the trees at the new Littleton Cemetery.

Plews Family 1906-1937

The original Plews house, greenhouses, outbuildings in 1915

Matthew Plews when he was new to the area

Plews Family

 

Plews sold the property in 1937 at the height of the Depression  to  Elizabeth Hamblin,  mother-in-law of O.E. “Smiling Charlie” Stephens.  Matthew Plews died in 1946 and is buried in Littleton Cemetery.

 

   O.E. (Smiling Charlie) Stephens Family 1937-1944

   Ova E. “Smiling Charlie” Stephens  was involved in that general  area (Santa Fe and C-470) in a variety of criminal activities for many years.  Illegal gambling, car bombing, tax evasion and running a brothel were among the various pursuits of Smiling Charlie.     In 1937 Smiling Charlie was convicted of  the car bombing of his partner Leo Barnes, along with the Smaldone brothers, and imprisoned at the State Penitentiary  from 1939-1944.   In 1944, soon after his release from prison the farm was sold and Smiling Charlie moved on to purchase the Wolhurst Mansion and turn it into a gambling mecca.

 

 

 

  Fred and Marguerite Eberhardt Family  1944-1967

   Fred and Marguerite Eberhardt were the new owners of this property.  Eberhardt was a highly respected mechanical engineer, and owned the successful Eberhardt-Denver company, which among other projects supplied gears for Hoover Dam, and other iron parts for conveyor belts, escalators, anti-aircraft guns and more.  Their company motto was “More Horsepower for the Dollar”.  The Eberhardts primarily utilized the ranch as a summer get-away for their large family.

J  ohnny Bowen and Family-The Last Individual Owners of the Property 1967-2004

  The Eberhardts sold the property in 1967 to Gates Rubber Company, who immediately traded it to Johnny Bowen and Family, for property he owned at todays Broadway and County Line Rd.  The Bowens had farmed and ranched in Arapahoe and   Douglas County since 1907.  They also operated a cattle ranch near  Strasburg, and they used a small private airplane to commute between the two properties.   They had a hanger and airstrip on the property.  The Ranch was therefore named “The   Fly’n B” Ranch. 

The Bowens had a large extended family, and they loved the ranch from the time of the 1967 purchase until they sold it to Erickson in 2004.  By then, the C470 freeway was basically at their front door, and the area had changed dramatically.   It was time to move on. 

 

 

Original Fly'N B Ranch Sign

Modern Day Fly'N B Park and Plews House

Erickson, the developer of the Wind Crest Retirement community immediately to the west of the current home, conveyed 5 acres of the property to the Highlands Ranch Metro District in 2006. The original Plews home was included.  In 2010 the Fly’n B Park was opened.  

Today the original Plews home stands facing west, with eyes from the past looking forward to the future uses.  The building will likely be somewhat restored and remodeled to accommodate community events.  The surrounding park has a fishing pond, and large picnic area, and is adjacent to the Highline Canal Trail

Erickson Wind Crest Property just to the West of the Fly'n B Park