Palmer Lake Historical Society
Serving the Tri-Lakes/Palmer Divide Since 1956
P.O. Box 662, Palmer Lake, CO 80133


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Historic Palmer Lake Buildings

There are many buildings in Palmer Lake that date back to its beginning. Estemere has been the town's showpiece for more than 100 years. The Old Jail has fallen into disrepair, but the Historical Society is working to move and restore this relic from the past. Several other historic buildings are included in our virtual walking tour of Palmer Lake. For more information about these and other historical points of interest, order the Historical Society publication Historic Landmarks of Palmer Lake.


Estemere Estate In 1887, William Finley Thompson, a dentist from Baltimore, began building the 5,700 square-foot Estemere Estate in Palmer Lake during a period of Palmer Lake's history referred to as the "Ambitious '80's." The Victorian Mansion has 18 rooms and six fireplaces. The estate is currently undergoing a renovation by its present owners, Roger and Kim Ward. Find out
more about Estemere. The Historical Society also offers a book, The Estemere Estate of Palmer Lake, for sale at the Lucretia Vaile Museum and other locations.

Old Jail

Old JailThe "Calaboose" was built in 1891 by J.W. Doyle, the first watchman in Glen Park. The jail has one room with a single barred window. There were no sanitary provisions, but bedding, candles and a stove were provided to prisoners. There is a charred area inside where one inmate hoped to gain his freedom by starting a fire. The jail was used until about 1920.

The old Jail is currently being repaired and is in a new location close to the Lucretia Vaile Museum. Find out more about this project.

Walking Tour

Click on any of the pictures below to see an enlarged image. Pillsbury Store

#7 Pillsbury Store
This structure was built by Charles H.L. Pillsbury and Charles C. Pillsbury (not related) in 1886. Dr. W.F. Thompson gave the land on which the store was built as a gift, with the provision that the Pillsburys would oversee the construction and stocking of the store. William M. Younger was hired to be meat cutter and to manage the store. Ownership changed several times during the 1890's to the Mungers, the Giem brothers and Carl Agnew. The structure is now a private residence.

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McIntyre Cottage

#8 McIntyre Cottage and Carriage House
Dr. W.F. Thompson built the original structure in 1884 or 1885 as a club house for the Glen House Hotel--later the Rockland Hotel. The first school and church services were held here. In 1886 or 1887 it became the home of the D&RG train station agent. In 1891-1893, it became the home of Della Campbell, Postmaster, and a little post office was attached to the side of the house. The Henry A. McIntyres bought the house for a summer retreat in 1898 and in 1953 it became the retirement home of their daughter, Marian McIntyre McDonough, author and founder of the Palmer Lake Historical Society. A McIntyre grandson and his wife make the cottage their home today.

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#11 Electric Company and Powerhouse
This stone structure was built in 1925 to house the town's first electric company and generator. Mr. Jack owned the company and the Town of Palmer Lake owned the generator which provided the town's first electric lights in 1928. The townspeople were glad to replace their flickering candles and coal oil lamps with electricity. When the Palmer Lake Star was built in 1934, electricity was still generated at this site to light the star. Fred and Mercedes Salazar resided here for over forty years until their deaths in 1996.

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George W. Palmer House

#14 Site of the George W. Palmer House
Mr. Palmer was Dr. W.F. Thompson's head carpenter as well as Police Magistrate, elected in 1889 by the first Town Council. His daughter, Clarabelle, was the town's first school teacher. Mrs. C.A.J. Berry (Dr. Thompson's sister and Town Treasurer in 1895), also once lived here.   The home was torn down and replaced in 2007.

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Vaile Cabin

#15 Vaile Log Cabin
Along with three friends, Joel Fredrick Vaile, an attorney for the Rio Grande Railroad, built the original slab wood cabin in the mountains above the Estemere Estate around 1884. The first rustic cabin consisted only of a kitchen with tents pitched under the pines, and was used as a summer retreat. The cabin was enlarged in later years and Mr. Vaile became the sole owner. Mrs. Vaile, born Charlotte White, was the author of popular books for children and did a lot of her writing at the old cabin. The Vailes had four children, one of whom was Lucretia (for whom the museum is named).

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Telephone Office

#18 Telephone Office/Switchboard
The telephone company rented this house that John Woodbury erected in 1896. Because the region was a storm center, a house was needed for a man and wife who could take turns as operator. The first couple to occupy it were the Averys. The telephone company had a local "trouble-shooter" who handled many emergencies when heavy snows downed poles and wires.

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Little Log Church

#20 Little Log Church
The church was founded in 1925 as Palmer Lake Friends Community Church with 41 members. Services were held in the Town Hall until two log houses were bought which were to become the church complex. The bell in the belfry came from the first schoolhouse. Orville and Myrtle Bender were pastors until 1930. She was ordained in 1939 and remained until her retirement in 1959. The public library was located in the church until about 1964. A basement was added in 1947 which is now used for classes and social activities.

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Countess Murat's Cottage

#21 Countess Murat's Cottage
Mrs. Katrina Murat, German born, was one of Colorado's most famous pioneer women. She and her husband became wealthy in Colorado mining, then lost their fortune. The Countess got her title through her husband, a French nobleman who was a great nephew of Napoleon. In 1887, at the age of 63, she moved to Palmer Lake and lived in the little cottage for 23 years. She was known as the Betsy Ross of Colorado Territory. Above her grave, located in Denver, is a marker which states, "'In Memory of the Maker of the First U.S. Flag in Colorado.' Katrina Wolf Murat 1824-1910."

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White Kitchen Cafe

#25 The White Kitchen Cafe
The cafe was built around 1927 by Frieda Hubbard (sister of Faye Bellinger who was a former Postmaster of Palmer Lake). The white quartz was rolled down from Sundance Mountain by Frieda, Faye and Jerry Kendrick.

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D&RG Train Station Agent's Home

#26 D&RG Train Station Agent's Home
The house was built in 1883 for $900. In 1968, the building was given by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company to the Palmer Lake Little Art Group, and it became the Apple Tree Gallery. It was subsequently sold to and restored by Kenneth Krueger.

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Fire Station

#31 Fire Station
The fire station was built through a Work Projects Administration (WPA) project in 1937. The new structure, of Pueblo design, was said at the time to be one of the most up-to-date buildings in the community. An addition was completed in 1970's,. The first Volunteer Fire Department was organized by Byron Medlock. As Captain, he purchased the first fire engines. The Palmer Lake Star was erected by these station volunteers.

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Palmer Lake

#42 Palmer Lake
An Army expedition, led by Colonel Henry Dodge, visited the Rocky Mountains in 1835 and mapped a body of water which they named Summit Lake. Afterward, the name changed to Divide Lake, and finally, Palmer Lake. The lake sits on the Palmer Divide where watershed drainage separates the waters of the Platte River to the north and the Arkansas River to the south. In 1872, the lake was a critical stop for the railroad as a water supply for the steam engines, as it was the only natural water supply available. Later, ice houses at the south end of the lake furnished ice by contract to the D&RG Railroad for use in "refrigerator" and dining cars. By 1882, the town began enlarging the lake to its present 10 acres. A boathouse, public park, fountain and covered pavilion were added to help attract tourists. It is believed an underground spring originally fed the lake. In dry years, water has been piped down from the two reservoirs in the canyon between Chautauqua and Sundance Mountains in which North Monument Creek flows. The reservoirs were built by the railroad to replenish the lake. Today, they serve as drinking water for the town.

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If you would like to learn more about Tri-Lakes history, the Palmer Lake Historical Society, or the Lucretia Vaile Museum, please e-mail us at