Steele to Harrison, Exposition to Mississippi
Home to “Denver’s Grandest Mansion”, the Belcaro neighborhood is located just east of Bonnie Brae, and the history of the area is closely linked to the Phipps family.
Arriving in Denver in 1902 after making a fortune in steel, Lawrence Phipps intended to make a mark as a humanitarian. He sponsored the Agnes Memorial Sanitarium on 40 acres East of Quebec on 6th Avenue. This facility closed in 1928 and was later sold to the city of Denver. Lowry Air Force Base opened on the site in 1937.
Phipps was elected to the U.S. Senate as a Republican in 1918 and served in that capacity until 1930. His tenure was not without some controversy. In the 1924 elections the KKK agreed to support him if he would underwrite the state election costs. The candidates supported by the KKK had great victories that year and even though Phipps disassociated himself with them shortly after the election, he was widely blamed for their political success that year.
After leaving the Senate in 1930, Phipps was ready to build a mansion in which to retire. Fisher and Fisher, along with New York architect Charles Platt, designed Belcaro, which is Italian for “Dear One”. The Georgian Mansion was built during the depression at a cost of $310,000. The mansion was completed in 1933 and boasted 54 rooms and over 27,000 square feet.
The neighborhood surrounding Belcaro was platted by Phipp’s company, Belcaro Realty and Investment Company in 1931. Development began shortly afterward.
Phipps philanthropic work can be seen throughout the city. Just one example is his donation of $250,000 to the Museum of Natural History, which produced the Phipps Auditorium. Today, this is the IMAX Theatre.
By the time of Phipps’ death in 1958, he had sold much of the land surrounding the mansion as Belcaro Park. A portion of the land was also used to create the Belcaro Park Shopping Center which was developed in 1953.
Phipps’ wife, Margaret donated Belcaro to DU which rents it out for private events and renamed it the Lawrence C. Phipps Memorial Conference Center. Today, 5 ½ acres remains of the original Belcaro property, but the influence of the Phipps family continues to be felt and appreciated throughout Denver.
Today, the Belcaro neighborhood, encircling the Phipps Mansion, is home to many elegant, expansive, mostly ranch-style homes, with large, pristine, well-manicured lawns. Very centrally located near Cherry Creek, between Bonnie Brae and Colorado Boulevard, and next to Polo Club, Belcaro is now one of Denver’s most sought-after neighborhoods.
Five acres within this region are home to the grand historic Phipps House at 3400 Belcaro Drive. Lawrence C. Phipps, treasurer of Carnegie Steel and U.S. Senator, spent $310,063 in 1932, having Charles A. Platt and sons design the spacious 33,123-square-foot, 54-room red brick Georgian mansion. Called “Belcaro” by Phipps (Italian for “beautiful dear one”), the mansion was donated to the University of Denver in 1964 and now serves as a museum and conference center.