Elizabeth Paepcke

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Elizabeth Paepcke
BornAugust 28, 1902
DiedJune 1994
EducationFoxcroft School
Alma materArt Institute of Chicago
Spouse(s)Walter Paepcke
Parent(s)William Albert Nitze
Anna Sophia Hilken
RelativesPaul Nitze (brother)

Elizabeth Paepcke (28 August 1902 – June 1994) was a philanthropist and promoter of Aspen, Colorado.[1] She was born near Baltimore, Maryland.

Early life[edit]

During her father's tenure at the University of Chicago, Elizabeth was enrolled at University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. She attended until she entered a boarding school for girls in Virginia (Foxcroft School) at the age of fourteen. Later Paepcke studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago.[2]

Promotion of Aspen[edit]

Paepcke is remembered as the Grand Dame of Aspen due to her love and promotion of the small mining town into the skiing destination it later became.[3][4][5] Walter and Elizabeth founded the Aspen Music Festival and School in 1949, and Walter served as the festival's director until 1954 when he appointed baritone Mack Harrell to take over.[6] The Aspen Skiing Corporation was founded in 1946, and the city quickly became a well-known resort. Aspen hosted the FIS World Championships in 1950. Paepcke with her husband Walter also played an important role in bringing the Goethe Bicentennial Convocation to Aspen in 1949. It was an event held in a newly designed tent by the architect Eero Saarinen. Due to the Paepcke's promotion and influence Aspen became an internationally known ski resort and cultural center, home of the Aspen Music Festival and School. The skiing haven continued to grow with the development of three additional ski areas, Buttermilk (1958), Aspen Highlands (1958), and Snowmass (1967).


Elizabeth Paepcke was the daughter of William Albert Nitze, a chairman of Romance Languages at the University of Chicago.,[2] and Anna Sophia Hilken. She was married to Walter Paepcke, and she was the sister of American diplomatic figure Paul Nitze.

Later years[edit]

Elizabeth loved Aspen's cultural richness, but she was upset when Aspen succumbed to the low life that undermined the true heart and soul of her beloved community. When interviewed late in her life, she explained how she felt, "Aspen can't be swallowed by the avariciousness of those who don't understand the reason for its existence" [7] She died in Aspen from head injuries resulting from a fall.[8]


  1. ^ "Elizabeth Paepcke, revived Aspen". Baltimore Sun.
  2. ^ a b "LIVES WELL LIVED - ELIZABETH PAEPCKE - Eve in the garden of Aspen - NYTimes.com". 1 January 1995.
  3. ^ "Toledo Blade – Google News Archive Search".
  4. ^ "Guide to the Elizabeth H. Paepcke Papers 1889–1994".
  5. ^ "Heritage West – Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Paepcke".
  6. ^ Ross Parmenter (February 7, 1960). "WORLD OF MUSIC: FRIEND LOST; Mack Harrell's Death Will Mean New Faces At Aspen Festival". The New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
  7. ^ The Story of Aspen by Mary Eshbaugh Hayes, (1996) p. 81.
  8. ^ "Elizabeth Paepcke, 91, a Force In Turning Aspen Into a Resort". 18 June 1994.

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