“A man came west in those days for health, wealth, or reputation. I came to make a fortune,” Charles A. Johnson, original owner of the Castle once told the Rocky Mountain News. “I had worked four years in a shoe factory in Massachusetts and I was tired of the hard work and long hours. I came to Denver bought a new suit of clothes… a deal went through here and I made some money.” The former cobbler made his fortune in Denver real estate and took up residence at 1980 Albion Street, in a house he affectionately referred to as “The Hut.”
As Johnson’s wealth continued to grow, he hired Burnham and Merrill Hoyt to build a country summer house on a rocky promontory 3 miles east of Sedalia. The Johnsons’ named the 24 room, lava rock castle “Charlford” after their sons, Charles and Gifford, and moved there in 1927.
Upon his death in 1954, the hilltop castle and surrounding 3,200-acre grounds became Cherokee Ranch and home of Mildred Montague Genevieve “Tweet” Kimball. Before her death in 1999, Tweet had established the Cherokee Ranch & Castle Foundation and had entered into a conservation easement with Douglas County. This protects the entire site from development and maintains the castle as a house museum. The ranch serves as a major addition to the area’s open space. An upstairs bathroom in the castle still depicts on painted tile the Johnsons’ Park Hill “Hut.”
The property located at 1980 Albion Street has recently been purchased by a developer. There is a committee that has been formed by two members of the Johnson family, Angel Johnson and Bernadette Kelly along with a neighborhood group who are trying to save The Hut from being torn-down by seeking historical designation from the State of Colorado.
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