Railroad magnate James John Hagerman built Hagerman Mansion in Colorado Springs in 1885. The Hagerman Mansion served as luxury housing for a family of Colorado Springs pioneers until 1899. Today the building is comprised of the original 1885 mansion, a pre-1899 addition, and several wings constructed in 1927 during its conversion into luxury apartments.
James John Hagerman
Like many of Colorado Springs’ early residents, Hagerman initially settled there to help alleviate his tuberculosis symptoms. During the 1880s, prominent Colorado Springs businessmen sought to establish a rail line to Leadville and Aspen, where large silver booms were underway. Prominent Eastern magnates including Jay Gould, Jerome Wheeler, and Russel Sage nominated Hagerman to serve as president of the new venture, the Colorado Midland Railway (CM). The railway’s founders hoped that the construction of a rail line to the silver mines would siphon the milling industry away from Denver to Colorado Springs.
Hagerman, a millionaire iron mill magnate from Michigan, was not particularly impressed by Colorado Springs when he arrived there in 1884. In 1905 Hagerman wrote that, at the time of his arrival, Colorado Springs “was as dead as Julius Ceasar. The old-timers were blue and discouraged. There was no business worth mentioning and little hope for the future.” Yet with time and the establishment of the CM, the Hagermans’s opinion of the city gradually improved, and they soon chose Colorado Springs as their home. The Hagermans broke ground on their home in the spring of 1885. Their home was gable roofed with stepped stone parapets at the gable ends and featured a two-story half-round tower on the southern façade. Two-story flat-roofed wings flanked the original house, built from pink sandstone. The southern section, constructed sometime before 1899, incorporated design elements from the original home and projects forward of the house’s main body.
The Hagerman Mansion’s ornate woodworking was done by Winfield Scott Stratton, a carpenter who later struck gold in the Cripple Creek District and became one of the state’s most active philanthropists. Stratton also cast the numerous ornamented brass and silver panels depicting Colorado flora and fauna on display at the Hagerman Mansion. The “Peachblow” Sandstone that adorns the mansion’s exterior likely came from Hagerman’s quarry on the Fryingpan River near Basalt. During the 1894 Miner’s Strike in Cripple Creek, Hagerman hosted union members at his house and served as a mediator in the bargaining process.
The CM was sold to the Burlington, Northern & Santa Fe line in the 1890s, and Hagerman sold his house to Leadville silver magnate Absalom Hunter as an investment in 1899. Hunter kept the property vacant but well-maintained until 1922, when he sold the mansion to Benjamin Lefkowsky, a Russian artist. When the house was purchased in 1922 and converted to luxury apartments, several extensions were constructed, including two matching L-shaped wings at the original house’s northern and southern façades. Though stucco-walled, quoins of pink sandstone adorn these additions, unifying the building’s architectural style. Lefkowsky and his wife, a concert pianist, lived there alone until 1927, when they expanded the home and converted the property for use as luxury apartments containing twenty-two separate units.
Description and Significance
Several other additions added at an unknown date on the western façade include a stucco second story built atop the original stone, a one-story carriageway, a three-story stucco addition adjacent to the original dining room adorned with stone sills and quoins, a stucco third story added to the tower, and a third story addition built over an original enclosed porch. Inside, a central corridor runs from the house’s front to its rear, with rooms opening off the hallway. Much of the interior features rich materials such as stained hardwood, painted plaster, and beveled mirrors. One notable design element is the one-and-a-half story arched stained glass window in the northern wall between the first and second stories. The central hall ends at a dining room adorned in dark mahogany, a silver-filigreed gas chandelier, and a cast silver fireplace.
The Hagerman Mansion was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The structure is significant due to its original design, uniform additions, and fine materials, as well as its association with one of Colorado Springs’ most important railroad magnates.