Highlands Ranch MANSION

The Highlands Ranch Mansion

The soul of Highlands Ranch began as a homestead with a small stone farmhouse  by Samuel Allen Long, and that simple building has transformed  over the years with several different and unique owners, into the beautiful 27,000 sq. foot Highlands Ranch Mansion of today, along with the 22,000 acres that is collectively known as Highlands Ranch.  The owners were all rich and powerful men in their own right, who just happened to own and renovate and grow both the original building and the land. Follow along as we explore these 6 men and watch the Mansion transform into the jewel that it now is.  

Highlands Ranch Mansion Owner:

   Samuel Allen Long


Our story begins when Samuel Allen Long decided to leave his home in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and make his way to Denver, Colorado. After arriving in Denver in 1880, he began selling real estate in and around the city which was a very profitable business for him. He also got involved in politics, coal and gold mining, farming and livestock raising.

While in Pittsburg he had various occupations including blacksmith, member of the board for the B&O railroad, city council member, petroleum refining, lumber industry and politics.

In 1884 Mr. Long filed for a 40-acre homestead on the property, south of Denver in Douglas County, and in 1888 he added 2,000 acres. There he planted several orchards and introduced dry land farming which is the practice of deep plowing and irrigation by rainfall.

In 1891 he built the 30x50 stone farmhouse which was the start of our HR Mansion. He called his home ROTHERWOOD, after a boyhood farm. There is a carving with the date of 1891 high above the original entrance to the farmhouse. The structure was 1 1/2 stories with the bedrooms upstairs and the kitchen and living areas on main level.

The name Rotherwood and his name is above the door and was discovered during the renovation which began in 2011. Before that time it was thought that the second owner had built that part of the mansion as well. 

In 1892 he was involved in an unfortunate accident in downtown Denver by being thrown from his buggy by collision with a cable car.  Mr. Long could no longer work and in 1893 the home was sold to real estate developers. He and his wife lived in the Ladies Relief Home in north Denver until his death in 1905.

He is buried in Fairmount Cemetery.

SANDY CHAMBERLIN,  Highlands Ranch Historical Society and HR Mansion Docent  NOVEMBER 2020

Highlands Ranch Mansion Owner: 

John W. Springer


In 1897 John Springer an attorney, politician and banker from Illinois, purchased ROTHERWOOD plus many smaller farms and turned the properties into the 12,000-acre CROSS COUNTRY HORSE AND CATTLE RANCH.   Using the farmhouse as a base for his castle , he added the east wing, the living room and upstairs bedrooms, billiards room, and the turret and also moved the front door to the living room, finishing the construction in 1910. At some time he also built a carriage house behind the castle where he kept his prized German Oldenburg coach Stallions and beautiful carriages. To the east side he built a one lane bowling alley .

Before coming to Colorado, John had gone to Texas where he met Colonel William Hughes who hired him to run his cattle operation. He also met Hugh's daughter Eliza and became quite smitten. John & Eliza married and had a daughter, Annie Clifton. Eliza became ill with tuberculosis, and the doctors suggested moving to a drier climate, so the move to Colorado was made.

In collaboration with Charles F. Martin, in 1898 the National Live Stock Association was created with John Springer as the first president, a position he held until 1903. In 1904 John ran for the office of mayor of Denver, sadly losing to Robert Speer,  who later named Speer Blvd in Denver.  It is rumored that votes were “bought” by Mr. Speer.

Shortly after losing his bid to be mayor, his beloved wife Eliza passed away. A few years later while in St. Louis, Missouri, John met beautiful Isabel Patterson who was 20 years younger and a socialite. They soon married and he renamed his HR home CASTLE ISABEL in her honor. To promote their image as high society people, they rented a room at the Brown Palace Hotel.  In 1911 there was a murder at the hotel involving two of Isabel’s suitors.  John was extremely humiliated by the scandalous affair and 5 days after the trial was over he divorced Isabel.  In 1913 he sold his ranch to his father-in-law, Colonel William Hughes.

John died in 1945 and he and his third wife, Janette, are buried at the Littleton Cemetery.

The story about Isabel Springer and the murder was documented in the book Murder at the Brown Palace by Dick Kreck.

SANDY CHAMBERLIN,  Highlands Ranch Historical Society and HR Mansion Docent  NOVEMBER 2020

Highlands Ranch Mansion Owner: 

Colonel William E. Hughes


Colonel Hughes was a very successful attorney and also started the first bank in Dallas, Texas. He loved Texas and joined its military during the Civil War and was awarded the rank of Colonel. Colonel Hughes also

founded the Continental Land and Cattle Company, which grew to become one of the largest ranching conglomerates in the world.

When Hughes purchased the ranch from John Springer in 1913, he renamed it SUNLAND RANCH and continued to operate it as a working ranch. He used the ranch as the hub for his cattle operations.  There are some thoughts that Colonel Hughes added the West Wing to the mansion, but there is no concrete proof of that being true.

After his death in 1918, the property was bequeathed to his granddaughter Annie Clifton Hughes. There is no record of her ever taking possession of the ranch.

Two years later she sold the property to oil tycoon, Waite Phillips.

Colonel Hughes is buried at Fairmount Cemetery in Denver

SANDY CHAMBERLIN,  Highlands Ranch Historical Society and HR Mansion Docent  NOVEMBER 2020

Highlands Ranch Mansion Owner: 

Waite Phillips


Waite started his career as an accountant in his home state of Iowa and moved to Oklahoma to join with his two brothers who owned Phillips Petroleum Company. For many years Waite bought oil leases throughout Oklahoma and in 1918 he consolidated those holdings into the Waite Phillips Company. In 1925 he sold his company for $25 million.

After buying the ranch in 1920, Waite renamed it PHILLIPS HIGHLAND (no "S") RANCH after the Highland Hereford cattle that he raised here. There is the possibility that he added the west wing of the ranch or maybe just renovated it.  This was one of many ranches, covering thousands of acres, in the Rocky Mountain region.

With many other commitments, he made the decision to sell his ranch. In 1926, he sold the property to Frank Kistler.

After leaving Colorado, he and his wife Genevieve moved to New Mexico where they had been building their beautiful Philmont Ranch which they eventually donated to the Boy Scouts of America in 1941.  In 1938 they had already donated the 36,000 acres adjoining the property, and then an additional 91,000 acres in 1941. Waite also donated Philbrook, his home in Tulsa, to be used as an art museum. They were a very philanthropic couple who believed in giving away half of what they owned.

Waite and his wife eventually moved to Los Angles, California. In 1964 he passed away and is buried there.

SANDY CHAMBERLIN,  Highlands Ranch Historical Society and HR Mansion Docent  NOVEMBER 2020

Highlands Ranch Mansion Owner: 

Frank E. Kistler



Frank was born in 1882 and as a young adult he worked as an oil leaser for Texaco.  By 1917 he had learned enough about the business to form his own oil company called PARCO (Producers and Refiners Corporation).  It was later renamed SINCLAIR.  His oil business was headquartered in Denver where he and his wife Florence and 4 children lived. 

With his oil business performing well, Frank decided to try his hand at ranching.  In 1926, he purchased Highland Ranch from Waite Phillips.  He renamed his ranch the DIAMOND K RANCH  and began breeding operations that specialized in dairy and Angus cattle, sheep, chickens, and hogs.  The ranch proved to be another successful venture for Frank.

In 1929, after a quick divorce from Florence, Frank married a beautiful widow named Leana Antonines.  During the next 2 years, they conducted an elaborate remodeling of their Diamond K mansion.  The exterior was transformed from a gothic stone castle to a classic English Tudor, including a sprawling front patio, and a grand new entrance.  The interior was completely transformed with new hardwood floors, a breathtaking spiral staircase and lovely wooden cathedral doorways throughout. 

The living room was decorated with an enormous grandfather clock with cherubs carved on the case and an Italian saying at the base meaning “Time passes and man perceives it not” taken from Dante’s writings in the 1300s. Also a beautiful fireplace was added with the carved dates of 1929 and 1930 and carvings of the mansion and mountain scenes.












The renovations occurred simultaneously with the Stock Market Crash in 1929, and Frank was among the many that lost millions during that crippling era.  In 1937, with those loses and the many lawsuits that were pending against him, he was forced to sell his beloved Diamond K Ranch to Lawrence Phipps, Jr.

Frank and Leana headed west to Glenwood Springs, Colorado and in 1938 he bought and operated the Hotel Colorado and the adjoining hot springs. In 1943 he was able to secure a lease with the Navy and the hotel was transformed into a Naval hospital.  The lease included the springs, vapor caves and the 160 acre polo grounds.

After the war, in 1946, Frank sold the hotel and in 1953 he sold the vapor caves.

Frank passed away in 1960 and he and Leana are buried in a family plot at the Rosebud Cemetery in Glenwood Springs.


Highlands Ranch Mansion Owner:  

  Lawrence Phipps Jr.


Lawrence Jr. was very familiar with and loved the Diamond K property and when it became available in 1937, he acquired it immediately.

He changed the property name to HIGHLANDS RANCH and enjoyed his life there for almost 40 years.  He is the only owner that lived at the Mansion full time.  All of the others had additional homes in Denver or elsewhere.

Lawrence, Sr. made his fortune working for Carnegie Steele Co. in Pittsburgh and was a Senator in Colorado from 1919-1931 and Lawrence Jr. was trained from an early age to take over the family finances which he did willingly and responsibly.

He also had many other worthwhile undertakings which included serving on the board of directors for the Mountain States Telephone Company (now Quest) from 1911-1965, management of the National Western Stock Show, and military service during both WWI and WWII.  He was known as a great philanthropist, often doing so anonymously.

As far as we know, there was very little change in the Mansion during the Phipps’ ownership.  Elaine, his 3rd wife, did do some remodeling of the “library” which is the room in the front on the east side of the Mansion, according to an article in the Denver Post in January 1959.

After his death in 1976, the ranch passed to his estate, which handled its sale to Marvin Davis, head of the Highlands Ventures Corporation.  It was then sold to Mission Viejo.

Lawrence and Elaine are both buried at the Bear Canon Cemetery in Sedalia, CO

The Young (Chum Howe) House

This property was built by Lawrence Phipps  for his daughter Mary and her husband, Chapman Young.  The house is located at the north- western side of the Mansion, and enjoys a commanding view of the entire front range of the Rockies.

The Young family had 7 children, and they needed a large home.  It was being built in the late 1930's while the youngest child, Michael, was still in a stroller, and the family referred to the house as "Mikey's House" when they would visit the construction site with young Mike in his stroller.  The  brick house is quite large, approximately 3300 sq. ft. with 5 bathrooms.  Large windows and an upstairs patio face west for spectacular views.  When the Youngs moved farther south in Douglas County years later, the home was occupied by Charles "Chum" Howe, hence the name "Chum Howe House" as it was known for many years.


Shea Homes originally conveyed the house to Douglas County in 2001. 

Douglas County transferred ownership of the Young (Chum Howe) house to HR Metro District in 2012, with the idea that it would one day become part of the overall "Historic Park".   

Ultimate usage of the home is still to be decided.