1339 North Nevada Avenue, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903
February 19, 1853, was a frigid morning with blowing snow in Iowa City, Iowa. It was raging so hard through the cracks in the log cabin where John Lennox, Jr. was born that bitter day that they had to put up quilts to keep the snow off the bed where the baby lay.
John and his older brother, William, born to Scottish immigrant parents, grew up working the family farm and hunting buffalo on the open plains. John Sr. moved his family west to Colorado in 1872, and settled a place called Glenwood Ranch, later to become part of the U.S. Air Force Academy. At the time, it was eight miles north of Fountain Colony, which would one day become Colorado Springs.
One Sunday, John Jr. and his two sisters, Agnes and Elizabeth, were riding to go to church in Divide (can you imagine how far that would have been on horseback to make it to church in the morning?). A lone Indian who had been separated from his tribe tried to convince John that he only needed one squaw. It took some smooth talking by John to convince him that both of the squaws were already ‘spoken for.’
John and William worked in the hay and feed business. To these businesses they added handling coal, and years later they started a general freight company. In 1875, John travelled back to Iowa City and married Martha Jane Martin and brought her back to live in Colorado Springs. Both brothers bought homes in downtown Fountain Colony.
John was a staid and conservative man. He and his brother William built the Albany Hotel on North Tejon, where John ran a furniture store and an insurance company. Above Mountain Chalet at Tejon and Platte you can still see the inscription ‘LENNOX 1902’ that was above John’s furniture store. While John was going to church on Sundays with his young family, William was heading up to Cripple Creek to work the Strong Mine, in which he had a substantial investment (called a “grubstake”). Subsequently, William became known as “the rich brother.”
In 1890, John and his wife, Martha, and their four living children, who were at that time living on Cucharras Street, began construction on their property located at 1339 North Nevada Avenue in Downtown Colorado Springs. When it was completed in 1891, the cost was $7,800. As a gift to his younger brother, William had a stained, leaded-glass window imported from Tiffany’s in Europe as a house warming gift, with a price tag of $9,800 dollars. That window still graces the dining room, and is certainly a testament to the fact that quality never goes out of style.
Oak floors, winding oak staircase, curved glass windows, a second floor balcony, coved ceilings, with over 5,000 square feet of space, made this modest home a family treasure for almost half a century. There are two European imported-tile fireplaces on the main floor of the residence, one which graced the parlor, and the other which warmed the gentlemen’s after-dinner smoking lounge. That room is now used as a guest room.
John and Martha moved in to their new home with Paul, Luther, Evalyn, and Agnes. Helen was born in the home in 1893. (Their oldest son, Frank, had died at the age of four in 1880.) The family lived in the home until John died there in 1925. At that time, Martha moved out of the house and left it to Paul and his family, and moved in with her daughter, Helen.
Helen had graduated from Colorado College in 1917, and for many years she and her husband, George Keener, ran the Plaza Hotel across the street from Colorado College on the southwest corner of Tejon and Cache la Poudre.
Martha lived with Helen and George for 14 years, and died in 1939. Paul died the following year of pneumonia. After his death, the home was purchased as a private residence in 1940 by a non-relative. It was bought and sold several times as a residence and then as a boarding house.
In 1997 it was purchased by Mark and Lisa Kolb and turned in to a Bed and Breakfast called The Lennox House. They converted the basement into very nice living quarters for the Innkeeper. After having their son, they decided to sell.
Larry and Linda Linder from Clovis, California, purchased the home in August of 2005 while their son, Cameron, was a cadet at the Air Force Academy. Over the years, they did many renovations and made this beautiful Queen Anne Victorian even more inviting. They did not live at the home, but hired Mike and Debbie Beck and their family as Innkeepers, where they lived until 2010. Somewhat of an historian, Mike spent many, many hours researching the home and the surrounding area.
Now that their son has graduated from the Air Force Academy and resides in Boston, the Linders are looking to pass this historical grand dame to the next torchbearer for safekeeping, and the asking price includes the furniture and the Bed and Breakfast business. Shannon Finney is currently the Innkeeper and lives on the premises while it is being marketed. This could easily be turned back in to a single family residence, or can continue in the tradition of welcoming and entertaining guests. Most houses on Talking Walls will not be on the market, but if you have questions or interest in this beautiful and historic home, please do not hesitate to contact me at (719) 460-7570.
Written by Mimi Foster as told by Mike Beck
Historian and former Innkeeper for The Lennox House