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St. Mary's Convent

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c. 1875. 205 Pine St.

Restored in the 1940s by Colorado Springs philanthropist Julie Penrose as a private residence, this is a good example of Second Empire vernacular with its mansard roof, dormer and bay windows, and window hood ornaments. The convent housed the nuns who taught at St. Aloysius School. Pine Street neighbors to the south included sisters of a quite different order who staffed several brothels, including that of Central City's most celebrated madam, Lou Bunch. Today these former houses of ill repute are prim and proper, restored to architectural and moral respectability.

Uphill behind the convent and church, atop 150 rickety steps, stood St. Aloysius Academy (1873). Opened by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, it closed in 1917. Ida Kruse McFarlane, a graduate of St. Aloysius, purchased the land and remains of the school, hoping to build a public park and overlook (Central City had neither). Instead she devoted her energies to teaching and to restoring the Central City Opera House. Only after her death did friends realize her dream with the Ida Kruse McFarlane Memorial Overlook (1940, Burnham Hoyt), designed to incorporate the school's masonry ruins. The Celtic cross atop the viewing wall once crowned the academy bell tower.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel


What's Nearby


Thomas J. Noel, "St. Mary's Convent", [Central City, Colorado], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Colorado, Thomas J. Noel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997, 195-195.

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