Spencer Penrose (November 2, 1865–December 7, 1939) was a businessman, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and philanthropist at the turn of the 20th century. Although principally in and around Colorado Springs, Colorado, his interests included concerns in Arizona, Utah, and Kansas.
Spencer was born into a prominent Philadelphia family of Cornish descent to Richard Alexandria Fullerton and Sarah Hanna Penrose, and was brother to Boies Penrose and Richard (R.A.F.) Penrose. In 1886, he graduated last in his class from Harvard. Penrose started as a ladies-man and an adventurer who became a successful entrepreneur in the gold fields of nearby Cripple Creek in the 1890s as a manager of the local real estate office of Charles L. Tutt, a general supplies' merchant and gold assayer; his great fortune evolved from his associations with his geologist brother's gold and silver mine in the Commonwealth mine in Pearce, Arizona, and in his prescient purchase of Utah property that held enormous reserves of low grade copper ore that was extracted via a new metallurgical technique developed by one of his engineers in his Cripple Creek associations.
Julie married James “Jim” Howard McMillan, son of U.S. Senator and Michigan Car Company owner James McMillan (politician) (1838–1902) on June 18, 1890. Julie and Jim had two children, Gladys (1892) and James II (1894). Julie and Jim, considered wealthy, moved to Colorado in hope the climate would cure his tuberculosis. James II died from appendicitis on April 3, 1902, and her husband died tuberculosis on of May 9, 1902, leaving her a widow.
Spencer Penrose and Julie were married in London on April 28, 1906. She was an enthusiast of performing and visual arts, and original founder of the Central City Opera (1932) and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
Business and other ventures
Spencer Penrose was an entrepreneur and venture capitalist with vast holdings in many companies. He has contributed many of the most prominent landmarks in Colorado Springs. Penrose used his vast amounts of money to invest in other national mineral concerns and financed construction of The Broadmoor (1918), the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (1926), the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, the Pikes Peak Highway (1916), the Glockner-Penrose Hospital, and established the El Pomar Foundation (1937), which still oversees many of his contributions in Colorado Springs today.
Penrose companies and investments
- U.S. Reduction and Refining Company
- U.S. Sugar And Land Company (The Garden City Company)
- Garden City Western Railway (founded in 1916)
- The Garden City Irrigation And Power Company (changed to Southwest Kansas Power in 1957)
- Utah Copper Company (later the Kencott Copper Company)
- Beaver Land & Irrigation Company
- Beaver, Penrose & Northern Railway; (part of Beaver, Land and Irrigation Company) closed in 1919
- Community of Penrose Colorado
- Consolidated Copper Company
- Chlno Copper Company
- Gila Copper Company
- First National Bank of Denver, Colorado; Owner/director
- First Nat. Bank, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Director
- Colorado Title & Trust Co. (Colorado Springs)
- Cripple Creek Central R.H.
- Grand Junction & Grand River Valley Ry.
- Colorado National Life Assurance Company
- Schaeffer Dam and Lake Mc Neil
- Lake McKinney (constructed in 1906-07)
- Pen-Mac hotel
- Penrose Pioneer paper (Penrose Press)
- Charles Leaming Tutt
- Charles M. MacNeil
MacNeal, Tutt, and Penrose were partners in the Utah Copper Company as well as The Garden City Company. In eighty-seven years of its history The Garden City Company had only four families involved: MacNeil. Penrose, Charles Tutt, Russell T. Tutt, and William J. Hybl who is the lead trustee of the El Pomar Foundation.
Penrose entered the banking industry, along with business partner Charles MacNeil, with the purchase of the First National Bank of Denver from David Halliday Moffat, and becoming a director of the International Trust Company of Denver.
Spencer and Julie were active in many charities, including:
- El Pomar Foundation
- Penrose Hospital (formerly Glockner Sanatorium)
- The Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross
El Pomar Foundation
El Pomar Foundation was established in 1937 by Spencer and Julie Penrose to enhance, encourage and promote the current and future well being of the people of Colorado through grant making and community stewardship. The Foundation's name "El Pomar" is old Spanish for "The Orchard", derived from the Penrose home situated on an apple orchard.
Based in Colorado Springs, El Pomar Foundation is one of the largest and oldest private foundations in the Rocky Mountain West, with assets totaling $500 million. El Pomar contributes more than $20 million annually through grants and community stewardship programs to support Colorado nonprofit organizations involved in health, human services, education, arts and humanities, and civic and community initiatives.
Penrose Heritage Museum
The Penrose Heritage Museum is an 8,500 square foot (790 m2) museum located at 11 Lake Circle, adjacent to the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. The Penroses were avid collectors of carriages, motorized vehicles, and artifacts from their global travels. The Museum's extensive collection contains 31 horse-drawn carriages and 13 motorized vehicles, including Mrs. Penrose’s 1928 Cadillac limousine, as well as Native American artifacts, Western side saddles, and antique firearms.
Additionally, museum visitors can enjoy the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Experience, which highlights the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, America's second oldest motor sport event founded by Spencer Penrose in 1916. The Pikes Peak Hill Climb Experience simulates the numerous switchbacks of the Pikes Peak highway, offering visitors a feel for the 12.42 mile track winding to the summit of the 14,110 foot mountain, and houses race vehicles and memorabilia spanning more than a century.
The Museum is open to the public and free of charge, Monday through Saturday 9 am – 5 pm and Sundays 1 pm – 5 pm. El Pomar Foundation operates this prominent historic resource in keeping with the Penrose commitment to preserve and promote the region's history and heritage.
Death, Burial, and Legacy
Spencer died on December 7, 1939 at the age of seventy-four. Spencer and Julie Penrose are buried in the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun on Cheyenne Mountain, overlooking the Broadmoor resort.
Spencer's legacy as a community leader, businessman, and philanthropist can be appreciated in the famous landmarks he constructed around Colorado Springs, such as the Broadmoor Hotel and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, as well as through the continuing charitable efforts of the El Pomar Foundation across the State of Colorado.
Mr. Penrose was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2002.
Spencer Penrose Award, given annually to the top coach in NCAA Division I men's ice hockey
- Hiegert, Carole (7 April 2008). "Spencer and Julie Penrose". Historical Wall of Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Bristol Elementary School. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
Spencer Penrose was diagnosed with throat cancer and spent his last days gazing at Cheyenne Mountain and The Broadmoor resort. He died at 12:50 a.m. on December 7, 1939, at the age of seventy-four.
- White, G. Pawley, A Handbook of Cornish Surnames.(Penrose mentioned by name)
- History of Colorado, Volume 3 p 792-793- edited by Wilbur Fiske Stone- Retrieved 2012-01-02
- Spencer Penrose; El Pomar, A Foundation for Colorado
- El Pomar history of Julie Penrose- Retrieved 2012-01-12
- Penrose interests- Retrieved 2012-01-12
- The Garden City Company history- Retrieved 2012-01-12
- Schaeffer Dam- Retrieved 2013-01-02
- Penrose community history- Retrieved 2012-01-12
- Trust Companies, Volume 13; p 141 -Retrieved 2013-01-02
Thomas J. Noel and Cathleen M. Norman: A Pikes Peak Partnership: The Penroses and the Tutts. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2001. xii + 264 pp. ill. ISBN 978-0-87081-609-3.