June 10, 2013 Updated: June 10, 2013 at 7:40 am
When Pauline Memorial Chapel opened in 1919, across the lake from The Broadmoor hotel, there was little to distract the eye in this vast panorama at the base of Cheyenne Mountain.
"There were no trees, no buildings. All of this was open," said Broadmoor archivist Beth Davis, gesturing toward the skyline from the steps of the chapel.
That's not the case today. The Spanish Mission-style chapel is just across Park Avenue from the five-star resort's massive Broadmoor West addition and a lavish pool complex. Local traffic cycles by slowly but steadily, and guests in tennis outfits stroll the sidewalks outside the newly renovated church, commissioned almost a century ago by Broadmoor resort founder Spencer Penrose for his wife, Julie, a devout Catholic.
"Julie would come to Mass here every Sunday," Davis said about the hotel's grand dame, who outlived her husband by 16 years and died in 1956. "She would come over here in a chauffeured car with Pitty-Pat, her tiny poodle, and leave Pitty-Pat with her chauffeur while she was at Mass."
The chapel is named after Julie Penrose's granddaughter, Pauline, who - along with Julie's daughter from her first marriage, Gladys, and Gladys' husband - had been trapped in Belgium by German forces during World War I. In those dark days as she waited for word on her family's fate, Julie Penrose took solace in prayer. When the war ended and her family was safe, Julie asked that the chapel be named in honor of Pauline.
"World War I was ending, and Julie did this out of thanks and gratitude," Davis said.
According to a story that ran in The Gazette in 1941, the chapel initially was intended as a "monument to God for meditation and prayer of the hotel guests, as well as Julie's personal use."
The chapel officially was dedicated as a Catholic church in 1925 when St. Paul's Catholic Parish of Colorado Springs was established.
The Penroses filled the chapel with religious relics, art and antiques acquired on trips abroad or through gifts. These included lush Moroccan draperies, a 16th-century painting of the Madonna and Child, a monstrance reliquary of St. Therese of Lisieux and a set of kneeler chairs believed to be from the private chapel of King Louis XVI. In one of the last additions overseen by Julie, a choir loft with organ and chimes was added, along with a stone floor to support the extra weight.
Under the direction of Philip Anschutz, who bought The Broadmoor in 2011, the chapel and all the adornments within were renovated and refurbished. (Clarity Media Group, a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corp., owns The Gazette.) Work included repainting, cleaning of all the furniture and art, repairs to the roof and new heating and electrical systems. A sound system and organ also were installed. Even the pews were removed and refinished.
The $300,000 project "was a complete overhaul," Davis said.
The church reopened in June 2012. The space hosts nondenominational Sunday morning services for guests and The Broadmoor community, led by pastor Nathan McBride, who recently became the resort's first resident chaplain.
"This is a realization of the vision of Julie Penrose," said McBride, who also conducts weddings and baptisms and serves as a resident counselor for guests and staff. "It's an extension of The Broadmoor's five-star legacy of outstanding service."