423 North Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
It seems appropriate that the first story in Talking Walls should be about the first house in Colorado Springs. The McAllister House is located at 423 North Cascade Avenue.
Henry McAllister, a Civil War Major and a close friend of General William J. Palmer, relocated to Colorado with his wife, Elizabeth, and his young son, Harry. They came to Fountain Colony from Pennsylvania in October 1872 to help establish what is now known as Colorado Springs.
After Henry had disembarked from the train that had brought him and his young family to this new frontier, a gale-force wind came rushing through the station and turned the train in which they had been riding over on its side. So impacted by this event, Henry became very involved in the construction of his new home.
With less than 250 settlers in this new Colony, most people were just putting up temporary housing. Henry worked closely with George Summers, the architect that was also working on Glen Eyrie, General Palmer’s castle set in Garden of the Gods. So as not to have to deal with the fear of destruction from future high winds that were predominant in the area, Henry built his home in 1873 with walls a foot-and-a-half thick and steel beams from roof to foundation.
After high winds destroyed some of the temporary settlements in the area, Henry had his house reinforced with yet another layer of bricks, thought to have been brought in by train from Philadelphia, to ensure that the house would last several lifetimes. Three marble fireplaces that are in the home were also imported from the East. At the time, a young craftsman by the name of Winfield Scott Stratton (who was later to become a mining millionaire) helped Henry with the interior carpentry of the home, and the porch rails.
With a beautiful view of Pikes Peak, this Gothic-style English Cottage then became the home to two more children born to Henry and Elizabeth, daughters Mary and Matilda. It has often been remarked that Henry’s house was not only one of the first houses in Colorado Springs, but will also be one of the last.
Harry (Jr.) attended Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and became a prominent attorney in Colorado Springs and Denver. Mary also attended Swarthmore College, and came back to Colorado Springs and taught Latin and Greek at Colorado Springs High School, now known as Palmer High School. She married George Taylor and they lived on Tejon Street for many years.
Henry lived in his home until his death in 1921. At that time Matilda, who had attended Colorado College and was a local school teacher who never married, moved in with Mary and George on Tejon Street.
For more than thirty years after that, the McAllister House was rented to a lady named Fanny Robbins who ran a candy and wedding-gift shop at this location. After her death in 1958, the family sold the home. In 1961, an historic preservation group, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in Colorado (NSCDAofCO) was able to purchase this property. The home was painstakingly restored inside and out, and authentic period furniture was used for decorating. It is now a Museum and Gift Shop run by the docents of NSCDAofCO, and is open to the public with guided tours and high teas.