Did you know that there are opportunities to volunteer and use your time and talents at conference centers and camps around the country? Today, I am excited to welcome my mom, Ritchie Hale, as she shares some of her experiences working as a volunteer at Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs, Colorado seems an unlikely place to discover an English Castle. Would you agree? Yet here I am in the parlor, answering questions, and giving guided tours. I am volunteering at Glen Eyrie.
Volunteering at Glen Eyrie
When I first heard about the Glen Eyrie Castle I could only imagine the beauty of the place. After spending much time researching on the internet, seeing countless pictures, and reading historical accounts, my interest was piqued. Then I discovered one more fact and knew I would be volunteering at Glen Eyrie in the near future.
The Builder of the Castle
As a Castle Hostess, I would be the one to greet you as you entered these doors. I would launch into numerous facts about the castle and the builder of Glen Eyrie. Something inside my head would “click” and suddenly I would be having more fun than the proverbial barrel of monkeys. Why? Because I found the castle to be enormously fascinating and full of adventure. It would be my greatest desire to share that joy of discovery with you.
So, Welcome to MY Castle
Glen Eyrie is the estate of General William Palmer (1836 – 1909). As a youngster, he had great interest in trains. This led to his becoming involved with the Pennsylvania Railroad. By his nineteenth birthday the railroad sent him to England to study how their trains ran faster than the ones in America.
While there, he fell in love with English Castles and knew one day he wanted to build one. Later, while with the Kansas City railroad he was charged with the task of finding passage through the canyons to California. He founded Colorado Springs in 1871 and knew that this was the area where he would someday build himself an English castle. And he did. His first construction of the original 22 room house was started in 1871 and then in 1904 he began construction of the 67 room castle as it stands today.
The Dining room, with a large table and 18 Chippendale chairs, could be enlarged to a seating capacity for 30. Today this is the main foyer area for overnight guests who wish to sit quietly, read, gaze at the fire and enjoy quiet background inspirational music.
The castle is home to 24 fireplaces, mostly picked up when Palmer and his three daughters went on a shopping trip to Europe. The oldest fireplace in the castle came from Germany (not pictured). It was hand-carved around 1400 in a monastery. The carvings illustrate the Genesis Three account of the fall of Adam and Eve, and the Redemption by Christ.
This massive stone fireplace is the focal point in Palmers Den.
This staircase leads to the upper floors of the castle where guest rooms are now available for overnight bed and breakfast stays. The beautiful quarter-sawn oak is prevalent throughout the castle as are the plaster ceilings fashioned by Italian workers.
There is much to say about the beautiful castle, the near-genius of the man; General William Jackson Palmer, and the innovative forward-thinking that you’ll discover when you take a tour. It’s a place that truly, pictures do not tell the story.
But let me tell you the “one more thing” I discovered in my research about Glen Eyrie. It was purchased by the Navigators in 1953. Navigators are an evangelical interdenominational Christian Ministry proclaiming the motto of the founder, Dawson Trotman. “To know Christ and to make Him known”.
Dawson met Christ personally as a young teen when after memorizing 20 bible verses for a Sunday school class, the words burrowed into his heart. Why did that grab my attention?
The year was 1945. Roger Oldham, my father, just an teenager, had volunteered to go to battle and was out at sea on the U.S.S. San Pedro. It was there on a sister ship that two Navigators began mentoring Roger in Bible study, Bible memory, and the principles of knowing Christ, and making Him known.
At the time of my father’s death, he said one of the most influential things in his life had been when he had met Dawson Trotman and wife, Lila. She had served he and his sailor buddies ice tea in her home. His words, “Dawson Trotman had such a strong influence on my life….probably one that changed the course of my life forever,” were words that sparked a desire for me to be a part of the Navigator ministry. This was my opportunity to pay forward the blessing that God had given me through Navigators. Who knows? Perhaps God would use me as a tool to help shape the path of yet another life who would follow in the footsteps of Christ.
Volunteering at Glen Eyrie Castle
There are volumes to be written of our experience as Volunteers at Glen Eyrie. Wendy Buckler, the Director of Volunteers will be your first contact as you begin the exploration stage of volunteering at the castle. There is an application procedure and space is limited. Let me just say it was a joy and dream come true to have had this opportunity. The mission statement “Inspiring Wonder, and to know Christ and to make Him known” was lived out in every area of our experience as we interacted with staff, new friends, and other volunteers. We hope to return again someday and do it all over again.