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Celebrating 80 Years - Honoring the History of Colorado Springs, 1960, McAllister House Museum

Tags: #Celebrating80Years

McAllister House, circa 1875


#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and the people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.


Just north of downtown Colorado Springs, at 423 N Cascade Avenue, is the McAllister House—one of the three oldest houses in Colorado Springs and the only one that retains its original floor plan. On the National Register of Historic Places since 1973, the House is open to the public as a museum, offering insights into the rich history of Colorado Springs and the McAllisters’ role in the development of the region.


Grantee Spotlight:  McAllister House Museum

In 1873 Major Henry McAllister moved his family across the country to what is now Colorado Springs, having been  invited by his good friend and volunteer cavalry division leader, General William Jackson Palmer. At the time, the landscape was relatively barren and few families called the town home.

Colorado College (Cutler Hall), circa 1877

On an earlier trip to the area, McAllister had purchased the north half of the 400 block of Cascade Avenue where he planned to build a modest home for his family. The location put the McAllister family just outside the early commercial district and in close proximity to what would soon be Colorado College, which McAllister himself had a significant role in establishing.

McAllister and Palmer donated prime land as an enticement to the Colorado Conference of Congregational Churches to locate a college in Colorado Springs. The charter for the college was filed in 1874 and McAllister was elected to the original Board of Trustees that governed the institution, serving until his death in 1921.

McAllister and Palmer had also learned firsthand about the value of the railroad to the development of the expanding nation during their time in the military. After the war, they joined forces again and McAllister raised investment money from Philadelphia while Palmer scouted out routes and negotiated land deals. In 1871, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad’s initial segment from Denver to Colorado Springs was completed and the men continued to develop the line's movement south to Pueblo. 

After McAllister’s death, his family continued to make an impact in the region: his son became a prominent Colorado Springs attorney and his daughters worked locally as teachers. In fact, many of McAllister’s descendants still live in Colorado today.

McAllister House (center left), circa 1874. Cheyenne Mountain behind

In 1960, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America purchased the house from descendants of Henry McAllister with support from El Pomar, which granted $41,500 toward the purchase and remodel of the building. The McAllister House Museum opened in June 1961, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It is one of the three oldest houses in Colorado Springs and the only one that retains its original footprint and plan. It is also the only one open to the public, and provides a unique opportunity to learn more about the history of Colorado Springs and the role of the McAllisters in the development of the region. 


El Pomar in 1960:

El Pomar granted $913,278 in 1960. The largest grant was given to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo for the hippopotamus and elephant houses, and other grants included: funding for the purchase of an organ at St. Paul Catholic Church, capital support for the construction of Eisenhower Osteopathic Hospital, memberships at the Fine Arts Center for 50 nurses, and repairs of a stage coach for the South Park Historical Foundation.


Images courtesy of the McAllister House Museum

History prepared by Executive Director Eric Metzger