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The area is named for the mansion of Lawrence Phipps, a huge figure in 20th century Denver. After rising to the top of Andrew Carnegie’s steel empire, Phipps retired at the age of 39 with $15 million in his pockets. Moving to Denver in 1902 after the death of his young wife and mother to tuberculosis, Phipps dove into the construction of a TB sanitarium in their honor. The Agnes Phipps Memorial Sanitarium opened in 1904. Closed in 1932, the land would eventually become the Lowry Air Force Base.

By 1920, Phipps was well established in the social and political circles in Denver. He had a hand in many civic and social undertakings in the twenty years since his arrival to the state, including Fitzsimmons Hospital and the Moffat Tunnel. In 1918, he was elected to the United States Senate, where he would serve two terms.

After living in the Bethell Mansion and the Country Club, Phipps felt it was time to build his own mansion. The field to the east of Bonnie Brae was used to pasture polo ponies and Phipps felt this was the perfect building site for his future home, “Belcaro”, which is Italian for “beautiful, dear one”.

The home was a sprawling 54-rooms, designed by local architects Fisher and Fisher. Determined to boost the local economy, Phipps insisted that only Colorado contractors and materials be used in the construction of his new home. Naturally, the mansion was an elaborate affair, including billiard rooms, marble baths, and tapestries. Phipps wife, the third Mrs. Phipps, also had a pipe organ installed. Most notable of the home’s riches is the extensive tennis house. This outbuilding included a formal reception area, bedrooms, kitchen and glass roof. Both buildings were surrounded by formal gardens.

Phipps was a notable Denver citizen until his death in 1958. The neighborhood around the Phipps Mansion was platted and sold by Phipps own Belcaro Realty and Investment Company, giving rise to a vibrant suburb consisting of large ranch style homes. His most recognizable donation to the city was the Phipps Auditorium at the Museum of Natural History.

After his death, his widow donated the remaining buildings and land to the University of Denver. The university sold much of the remaining grounds, creating the exclusive Polo Club neighborhood. For four decades, the University of Denver has used the mansion as an event center, hosting everything from weddings and bar mitzvahs to foreign dignitaries and presidents. In 2010, the university decided the cost to maintain the mansion was no longer beneficial. The historic mansion was listed at $9.2 million and sold within one month.

For information on homes in the Belcaro neighborhood, Polo Club or any other Denver real estate, please contact Vintage Homes of Denver.

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