In 1893, Elizabeth Iliff Warren and her second husband, Bishop Henry White Warren, built an 18,000-square-foot mansion in the heart of what is now the University neighborhood. Elizabeth was formerly …
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In 1893, Elizabeth Iliff Warren and her second husband, Bishop Henry White Warren, built an 18,000-square-foot mansion in the heart of what is now the University neighborhood.
Elizabeth was formerly the widow of a prominent land owner and cattle baron in Colorado, John Wesley Iliff. He died in 1876. Many of the streets and buildings in the area bear the name of these founders of the south Denver area.
Jane Queen, director of Accelerated Schools at 2160 S. Cook St., which now calls the mansion home, said the building is a “gem” in the community. The home is often called the Iliff Mansion, but is also known as Fitzroy Place, Queen said.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, the school held a carnival and fundraising event for the 125th birthday of the mansion, which the city designated as a historical landmark in 2007.
For the past 40 years, the school in the mansion has become Queen’s life, but in many ways so has the mansion itself: Queen is the keeper of the school, but also the keeper of the mansion’s history.
“The bottom line is Fitzroy is a historic landmark and, because of that, we’re stewards of the building,” Queen said. “We try to do the right thing and make the building available to the community.”
Queen offers tours of the building so that visitors can enjoy the historic place.
The building has a unique history. It was completed in 1893 with a great deal of extravagence. After John died, Elizabeth was worth an estimated $10 million, Queen said. The building still has an old bank safe in it, which Queen says probably weighs? about 3 tons.
“Nothing was left undone in the building of this mansion,” Queen said.
The mansion caught fire in 1910, and it took several years to return it to its original state. Elizabeth lived there until her death in 1920, and her daughter from her first marriage, Louise Iliff, lived there until her death in 1966.
Louise donated the house and its surrounding property, which totaled 4.3 acres and included both the carriage and caretaker houses, to the University of Denver. The university in turn sold it to the owner of the Randall Moore School, which moved the facility there in 1974.
The school changed owners again in 1983, changing its name to Accelerated Schools. Queen began teaching at the school in 1979. She became the director of the school in 2009.
“It’s been my life to be here at this school, and the school was important,” Queen said. “But it was also important to me for us to be stewards of this property. For this building not to be preserved would be almost criminal as far as I’m concerned.”
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