Julie Penrose was a passionate philanthropist dedicated to Colorado Springs and the surrounding area. Her legacy lives on through various institutions in the Pikes Peak region including the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Central City Opera and El Pomar Foundation. Mrs. Penrose directed El Pomar Foundation for 16 years following Spencer’s passing, and her philanthropic passion, and interest in arts, culture and education all helped to shape the direction of the Foundation’s grant making.
Julie’s dedication to philanthropy and the arts is best exemplified by her work to establish the Broadmoor Art Academy, now the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, in partnership with several other notable women including Alice Bemis Taylor and Elizabeth Sage Hare. Featuring artwork from the likes of Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, and Renoir, and an iconic barefoot modern dance performance, the Fine Arts Center saw more than 5,000 visitors in its first week, in a town of only 30,000 people. This year, the Fine Arts Center celebrates its centennial anniversary as a cultural fixture in downtown Colorado Springs.
Julie’s championing of the Central City Opera similarly highlights her dedication to philanthropic giving to the arts. Originally built in 1878, the Central City Opera House was developed through a fundraising drive by the town’s miners. Unfortunately, when the mines dried up and the town began to empty, the opera house fell into disrepair. After supporting its revitalization, Julie chaired the Opera House’s board for many years, and made significant contributions toward construction of dressing rooms, restorations, and renovations. To date, El Pomar Foundation has contributed more than $1.9 million to the Central City Opera, largely in the form of general operating support.
This March, for Women’s History Month, El Pomar celebrated both our history of female leadership and our current female leaders still supporting Julie’s legacy through their work at the Foundation. We thank our female Trustees, Judy Bell, Andrea Aragon, Nechie Hall, and Fellowship Alumni Trustee Elly Durham, for their continued leadership and commitment to the Foundation. We also thank our female Regional Council members, staff and Fellows for their efforts to support the Foundation.. Every day, we are thankful for and celebrate the many people at El Pomar who make our mission possible, and the nonprofit organizations that make Colorado great.