Built by the Higginson Family in 1932, the original Flying Horse Ranch stretched 6,000 acres and five miles from the east side of Highway 83 to the Air Force Academy’s north entrance.
A grand adobe ranch entrance archway with a caretaker’s home and extensive corrals stood on what is now the south end of Rollercoaster Road between the Old and New Northgate Boulevards. In later years, those corrals were home to a therapeutic riding arena. The first quarter of the mile-long driveway crossed a dirt Highway 83 between the two Northgate roads.
Sold to Ned and Gloria McLean in 1942, the three-story, 30-room Spanish style pink adobe mansion was bought in 1948 by John Ben Snow, owner and publisher of Western Horseman Magazine. A year later Gloria married actor Jimmy Stewart.
After 10 years, Snow sold the ranch to his foreman, Don Flint.
In 1965, Arch and Gloria Barron fulfilled their Western dream, purchasing the mansion and the 100 acres which remained after Highway 83 was tarred, thus separating it from the archway. Arch sold his “Barron’s” clothing store and renamed the ranch ArchBar. In Colorado, Arch became a Realtor, eventually serving as president of the Colorado Springs Rotary Club.
Arch and Gloria had three children before waiting 10 years to have four more children who accompanied them to Colorado. Elder sister Pat became a swim teacher in Maine; brother Jim followed the family to Black Forest, where he was a college education professor, principal and school superintendent; and third child Conni eventually came to Western Colorado where she was a college art professor. The final four of the Barrons’ seven children — Tom, Pete, Bill, and Winnie — were 1970-1975 Air Academy High School grads when it was the lone District 20 high school.
After adding 140 acres and a pond east of the home, the ranch remained in the Barron family for 51 years. Gloria passed in 2005, outlasting Arch by 12 years. The ranch remained as home to all the Barrons until 2006, when the Palmer Land Trust established a Conservation Easement, allowing 205 acres to be permanently protected after the original home site was demolished.
Tom Barron worked with Palmer Land Trust to establish a conversation easement that protects indigenous species and the natural habitat from ever being developed. The current owners, Jeff and Cindy Smith, developers of Flying Horse Ranch properties, tore down the original mansion and relocated the 35-acre home site on the northeast corner of the property.
The original home faced south to a 40-foot by 20-foot flagstone patio featuring a beautiful unobstructed view of Pikes Peak and a brick barbecue large enough to roast an entire cow. On the walk-in level was an 8-foot by 10-foot safe which once held the McLean’s Hope Diamond.
The first floor extended 100 feet from a walk-in beef freezer, down a lengthy horse-themed hallway, to a full-sized bar with a shuffleboard floor. On the second level was a large kitchen, a room wallpapered in pigskin, a 60-foot living room with full mountain views, and several bedrooms on this level and upstairs.
Arch added a 50-foot swimming pool, tennis court and five acres of sod while Gloria successfully grew a wide variety of nonnative plants and trees.
Family Notes: Arch sold his clothing store in Newton, Mass. to become a local Realtor where he also served as president of the Colorado Springs Rotary Club. For 25 years, Gloria worked with the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind School to establish a Wildlife Touch Museum, with animals mounted and donated by all 50 state wildlife agencies.
Tom (T.A.) earned a Rhodes Scholarship; he is now a well-known author with 30 books to date and oversees the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes that recognizes youth who originate service projects.
Pete became a Special Education teacher and now lives in Oregon, near youngest Barron child Winnie, who is a physician assistant and EMT in Oregon. Winnie established the Makindu Children’s Center in Kenya, for which she was awarded International Physician’s Assistant of the Year.
Bill taught English and coached soccer, wrestling and track for 28 years in New England boarding schools before relocating just two miles from the original ranch in Black Forest, where he is now head official and youth feature writer for RMN Events, a year-round wrestling organization that hosts wrestling tournaments across the West.
Bill Barron is writing a book on the history of Academy D20’s School in the Woods; if you are an alumnus, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.