Amber Adventure for February -- introducing her to the Miramont Castle and the Tea Room.
Miramont was built in 1895 with a wing added in 1897 as a personal residence for . . . 2 people.
Fr. Jean Baptiste Francolon, who didn't quite seem to cotton to the austere living expected of him, and his mother, enjoyed the residence for only a few years before returning to their native France in 1900 and selling the extravagant castle to the Sisters of Mercy in 1904, who owned it for various purposes until 1946 when they sold it to private investors who immediately went to work slicing it up into apartments for solders returning from World War II.
Over the next thirty years, it had eleven owners, falling further and further into disrepair until the Manitou Historical Society stepped in to save the building in 1975 from condemnation. After more than forty years and thousands of volunteer hours, the restoration is still incomplete.
The castle is four floors in total, stepped up the mountainside (and bolted to it) with thirty rooms and 14,000 square feet featuring NINE different styles of architecture mashed together.
Francolon apparently just liked what he liked.
The styles are Shingle-Style Queen Anne, English Tudor, Romanesque, Flemish Stepped Gables, Venetian Ogee, Domestic Elizabethan, Moorish, Byzantine, and Half-Timbre Chateau.
A few favorites from this tour:
The Moorish arch between the parlour and the music room
Also, in the far back, you can't see them well, but those are actual people, in hats, having tea in the tea room.
20 ton Red Sandstone fireplace with arched hearth. The dark shingles at the top are original African mahogany.
Encyclopedic looking set of the Books of History, which appear to be organized around countries.
could not place the animal hide on this chair.
But the patina on the copper pieces shimmer turquoise in the afternoon sun.
the Grand Staircase was part of the 1897 addition to the castle.
It's lined with historic photographs of Manitou.
This one is my favorite. I can zoom in on different faces in this crowd for hours.
a close second favorite
The Solarium is my favorite room
Francolon's mother's room is my second favorite, probably because of all the blue.
That's mama's photo there on the chair, left. And her original four poster 13' tall poster bed from France that once dominated this room
The Moorish Keyhole Windows cut from red sandstone were the first things restored after the roof was saved from collapsing.
compared to his mother's quarters, Francolon's were downright austere.
The Great Hall has a very interesting floor, on the right side, down under the picture windows. If you walk across it, it dips and swirls and the seams don't match up. This was where the original staircase came through, prior to the 1897 addition. The tin ceiling work is nice, too.
as we were touring through the rooms, someone who was an accomplished pianist was playing a beautiful tune and just closed up as we came upon him at the end of the Great Hall.
the only visible aforementioned "bolts" or anchors that are holding the castle into the side of the mountain. Each one of these runs 16' long into the mountain.
from the servants quarters at the very top of the mansion.
Of the 21 varieties, I selected the Lavender. I have a thing for L scents, particularly lavender and lilac. They don't make a lilac tea.
We joined in on the hat brigade, at least for a photo. They had a whole table to choose from, so more than likely we can make some psychological connection between our selections.
Of course, you might say the same for our tea selections. The menu is listed in order from highest caffeine content to lowest.
I chose Lady Lavender, third highest on the scale. "Lady Lavender has her roots in Earl Gray Tea with an added sprinkle of lavender, vanilla, orange peel, & other citruses. Sweet, well-rounded, and full-bodied, with a lift and a twist, the black tea base provides a nice background that doesn't overpower the other flavors. High caffeine."
Amber went with Red Rocks Tea, "a pure herbal lend of South African red rooibos, vanilla & almond bits. Naturally sweet, earthy, & wonderfully smooth flavor that is full of Anti-Oxidants & minerals. Great for stomach problems, rehydration, anti-allergy & calming the mind. Caffeine free.
Deana chose Monkey Picked White, "Pure white organic tea leaves from China steep into a light-yellow, smooth liquor and impart only the lightest buttery sweetness with a slight apricot fragrance. Legend has it that Buddhist monks trained monkeys to harvest the leaves from the top of the wild tree. Increases Mental Awareness and Focus, Calming, Powerful Anti-Oxidant, Anti-Aging. Low caffeine.
Note that my compatriots both chose teas from the back of the menu, which may explain why, after my entire pot, I was beginning to lose my voice from talking so much (other than a few words here and there between Bob and Evan each day I barely speak. I probably talked more today than I have in a month combined). Amber and Deana, on the other hand, both looked like they needed a nap.
The scones, the first course, are in the photo above with the hats. Second course was fruit, third was the unphotographed finger sandwiches, and final course was some very decadent desserts. Between these and an entire pot of tea stretched across two hours, it was a lovely afternoon with friends.