Highlands Ranch (1980, 4,563 feet), formed after the subdivision of the 22,000-acre ranch for which it is named. Within less than a decade it became the most populous community in Douglas County. John W. Springer established one of Colorado's most noted horse and cattle ranches here in 1898. Phillips 66 oil tycoon Waite Phillips bought the ranch in 1920 and acquired many adjacent properties. Frank Kistler became the owner in 1926 and had Jacques Benedict enlarge and Tudorize the old stone ranch house. The ranch was purchased in 1937 by U.S. Senator Lawrence C. Phipps. His family sold off 1,500 acres on the western edge of the ranch in 1970 for what is now part of Chatfield Reservoir State Park, which offers a marina, stables, and the arboretum of the Denver Botanic Gardens. The Chatfield Dam and State Recreation Area (1976, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) is at the confluence of the South Platte River and Plum Creek, southwest of the intersection of Colorado 470 and U.S. 85 (Santa Fe Drive).
Oil billionaire Marvin Davis and the Highland Ventures group purchased the rest of Highlands Ranch from Phipps's heirs in 1978 for $13 million. A week later they sold it for twice that price to Mission Viejo, a California-based subsidiary of Philip Morris, Inc. Development began in 1981 with plans calling for an ultimate population of 90,000 in some 36,000 living units. A 1988, $435,000 show home, architect Karen Keating's “Professional Woman's Dream Home,” has four bedrooms, three and one-half baths including a 325-square-foot master bath boasting two walk-in closets, and a laundry room on the second floor. The home's “Old English” design, mixing Tudor and bungalow features, characterizes many homes in Highlands Ranch.
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