Built in 1928 as a summer home for Colorado Springs philanthropist Alice Bemis Taylor, the Ponderosa Lodge is the focal point of La Foret Conference and Retreat Center in Black Forest.
After Taylor’s death in 1942, her foundation deeded the property to the Colorado Congregational Church, now known as the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Taylor’s pine-log estate and its surrounding amenities, including nine cabins and six yurts, now are operated as a nonprofit organization by the conference.
The heavily forested Shoup Road facility, with grand views of Pikes Peak, attracts about 13,000 visitors annually from the UCC, other churches and religious groups, educational and nonprofit groups, business and family retreats, receptions, weddings and team-building events. It has hosted the full 10-year run of the popular MeadowGrass Music Festival.
The lodge, along with the Taylor Memorial Chapel, built on the site by noted Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem for Taylor’s private worship, are on the National Register of Historic Places. The lodge is also on the Colorado Register of Historic Properties.
A $200,000 grant awarded in 2015 by the History Colorado State Historical Fund, from which some gaming taxes are disbursed, and a matching $83,000 from supporters, paid for renovations to the lodge that were completed in 2017.
“Our tagline is: We provide sanctuary for all to consider the transcendent issues in life. That’s what we do,” Larry McCulloch, executive director of La Foret Conference and Retreat Center, told The Gazette recently.