Return to Blog

How Spencer Penrose Proposed


Carrie Markel

In the final weeks of the interns’ time at El Pomar, we were asked to deliver a presentation at July’s all-staff meeting. We, the interns, took the spirit of excellence to heart and delivered a brief history of Spencer and Julie Penrose’s travels around the world. While many know of the generous Penrose legacy in Colorado and with El Pomar Foundation, few know the stories behind their travels, which were crucial to the Penrose influence on Colorado.


  • The Penroses travelled parts of the world almost every fall, leaving Colorado for months at a time.
  • Within the United States, Spencer and Julie would often visit New York and Hawaii, where they had a home built between Diamond Head and Koko Beach.
  • Other destinations included China, Japan, India, Palestine, and Egypt, as well as countries in Europe like France, Portugal, and Italy.
  • Wherever they went, the Penroses brought back art, stories, and ideas that inspire what we see today at the Broadmoor, their legacy properties (Penrose House and the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun), and El Pomar Foundation.
  • On their first trip together, Spencer proposed to Julie in Nice, France, but instead of getting on one knee, he tossed a letter in her lap containing his father’s approval of the match.


After only a short time at the Foundation, this presentation was not just an exercise in teamwork and perseverance, but it was an opportunity that gave us a deeper insight into the life of the Penroses and therefore their legacy in Colorado. After one hears of their grand achievements and contributions, it’s hard to think of Mr. and Mrs. Penrose as ordinary people--but as we conducted our research, fun stories and anecdotes popped up, touristy pictures appeared, and the Penroses became much more human in our eyes. The legacy that surrounds us today is still dauntingly grand, but we as interns can connect the dots by tracing the Penrose travels and international influence back to Colorado—helping us see the relevance of our work and recognize the importance of the work of nonprofits supported by El Pomar.