Vernon Taylor III has a lot of great memories from his childhood at the property now known as the Taylor Property. The 122-acre site was the site of countless gatherings with friends and family, …
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Vernon Taylor Jr. and his wife Ann Bonfoey Taylor, moved to the 122 acre estate in 1950, and they raised their four sons there.
Taylor graduated from Dartmouth College in 1939, was a naval aviator during World War II, and joined his father in the family business, Westhoma Oil Co., after the war.
Taylor was an important financial investor in the early days of Vail Mountain. The Taylors designed and built the first ski home at Vail Resort — a European style manor on four lots at the base of a ski run on Rockledge Road.
Bonfoey was raised in Illinois to a family whose holdings included a large pharmaceutical manufacturing company, started by her grandfather and, among other things, a grass strip airfield complete with airplane. She started flying when she was 12 and later became a commercial flight instructor, one of just 25 women in the country at the time. Soon after she was enlisted by the US Army to train Air Corps cadets.
She also modeled in New York City, was a nationally ranked tennis player, taught herself to ski, and in 1939 was an alternate on the US Ski Team. A fashion designer, she launched her own trend-setting ski clothing line and opened shop in Vermont.
To learn more about the family, and to take a digital tour of the property, visit www.thetaylorestate.com.
Vernon Taylor III has a lot of great memories from his childhood at the property now known as the Taylor Property.
The 122-acre site was the site of countless gatherings with friends and family, summer days spent on the beach and waters of Ward Lake, and riding horses through the fields and dressage ring.
“My late parents, Vernon Taylor Jr. and Ann Bonfoey Taylor lived in a way people really don’t live anymore,” said Vernon III. “They were quite social and had a lot of people over.”
Some of those people included Truman Capote, Gregory Peck, Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, Prince Philip and Princess Anne of Great Britain, and Vogue fashion editor Diana Vreeland, all of whom came to the 26-room manor house.
MORE: Who were the Taylors?
And now residents of Lakewood can look forward to explore 60 of those acres on the eastern side of Wadsworth Boulevard at Morrison Road, thanks to a deal with the city to take ownership of about half the property. City Manager Kathy Hodgson signed closing documents on the deal on Feb. 28. The city will not develop the 60 acres, and maintain them as open space.
“I have had discussions with the Taylors for many years about preserving at least some of their stunning property as open space for the citizens to enjoy,” Hodgson said. “I knew this was an important property even when I was Community Resources Director because it provides a unique opportunity to acquire substantial acreage in our urban environment.”
The next steps include a site planning effort to determine how the park can be accessed and enjoyed by residents, with the park expected to open in 2020.
There will be a public process for residents to share their ideas.
To ensure that the city had the opportunity to purchase this property, Lakewood drew on funds normally used for constructing improvements in the city, but Lakewood is seeking grants to reimburse those fund from organizations like Great Outdoors Colorado and Jeffco Open Space.
“It’s a kind of hilly property, so we’re going to add some paths and create a place for parking,” said Kit Newland, Lakewood’s community resources director. “Otherwise, we want to keep the feel of the land as much as the same as possible. You don’t want to do anything to mess with those views.”
According to Vernon III, it was very important to his parents that the property remain un- or lightly developed after they were gone. The property is currently zoned for one house per acre, but even that seemed too much for Vernon III and his siblings.
“We didn’t want to do anything that took away from the character or beauty of the property,” he explained. “It’s a quiet place to go, and it will be that for residents in the future.”
The Taylor family is still working on selling the rest of the property, which includes the manor house, pool, tennis court, lake cottage with fireplace, dock, and boating privileges, still with the goal of keeping the land undeveloped.
Having open space is a priority for Lakewood residents, Hodgson said, which made purchasing the 60 acres an exciting project for the city.
“In most cities including Lakewood, there just aren’t a lot of opportunities to acquire large parcels of open space. We were so fortunate to have this chance and to have a great relationship with the property owner,” she said. “Adding more is always important because it allows us to bring more parks to all parts of the city for residents to enjoy.”
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