Richards-Hart Estate History

James W Richards (1869 to 1911)

In 1859, James Richards, a 20-year-old from Illinois, arrived
penniless at Russell Gulch near Idaho Springs in hopes of finding gold. He didn’t make his fortune in the mountains, but as a hardworking farmer and astute businessman, he established a prosperous flour and grain business. In the mid-1860s, he married Elizabeth. Their first child was born in 1868 and died at the age of three months. In 1869 and 1870 two sons were born. In 1874 Effie, the only daughter arrived and in 1876, son Charles completed the family.

In 1869, Mr. Richards homesteaded 160 acres from 26th Avenue to 32nd Avenue, Sheridan Boulevard to Harlan Street. He built his country residence in 1877, known as Lake Side at what is now West 27th Avenue and Benton Street, overlooking Sloan’s Lake. The Richards Mansion also served as a wagon stop for travelers who were heading into the gold country of the mountains.

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The original house, of Italianate architecture, had beautifully landscaped grounds with unusual trees (such as Linden, Kentucky Coffee, Catalpa, Walnut and Evergreen) and a fountain. Mr. Richards grew wheat, averaging 30 bushels per acre and had a large orchard and vineyard that yielded two to three tons annually. A few years later he added the western portion of the house, built in the Queen Anne cottage style.

Mr. Richards was also a prominent and active citizen in the early Wheat Ridge community. He was an officer of the School Board District Number 8 and a delegate to the Republican State Convention in 1882.

On May 22, 1883 at the age of 44, he died at his home of unknown causes. Services were held at the residence the next day. The family remained in the residence until 1911.

The Manby Family (1911 to 1926)

Jocelyn and Luella Manby purchased the property in 1911. Mr. Manby was born and educated in England but had travelled extensively. He had finally settled with his family in Trinidad, Colorado when they bought the Wheat Ridge property. The Manby family raised four children in the home and three of them were married at the mansion. The family remained in the home until 1926, when they traded it to Patrick Hart.

Patrick F. Hart Family (1926 to 1976)

In June of 1926, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Hart traded their 640 acre cattle ranch near Leadville, Colorado to the Manbys for the five acre property located at 5349 West 27th Avenue. Mr. Hart was a well-known and successful merchant in Leadville. For more than two years, the Harts repaired, remodeled and landscaped the property and moved in early in the summer of 1928. The exterior was stuccoed, hardwood floors were installed and an art deco fireplace was built in the living room. A new hot water heating system with a coal stoker was installed, replacing the various coal heating stoves previously used throughout the house. The east side of the property was a 75-tree apple orchard of several varieties and the family enjoyed making cider in the press.

Mr. Hart passed away on Christmas Day 1928, due to complications from an auto accident. He had lived in the home only six months. He left his widow with six children to raise, the youngest only three years old. For several years Mrs. Hart rented the fields to local farmers raising various produce on a share basis. She canned, preserved and stored her portion in the fruit cellar of the house for her family’s use. In 1932, Mrs. Hart had extensive remodeling done in the kitchen and a back porch was added for laundry facilities. There is an artesian well on the property, which the Harts never used.

Additions to the Property

One daughter, Marie and her husband, John Brovsky, built a home on the southwest corner of the property in 1965 to be close to and care for Mrs. Hart in her golden years. Mrs. Hart passed away in 1971, leaving her estate to her children.

City of Wheat Ridge

The Estate was purchased by the City of Wheat Ridge in 1976 for approximately $200,000. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 5, 1977.

Renovation & Restoration

The City then began extensive remodeling in the Gothic Renaissance and East Lake traditions with chandeliers, rosettes, and copper work highlighting the period restoration. A task force of residents was appointed to take on the difficult task of researching all the minute details of the home's original décor, including the type of wallpaper, carpet, furniture and wood used in the interior. 

Because walnut was a difficult type of wood to find in early 20th-century Colorado, pine was used as trim inside the house and painted to look like walnut using a process called graining. The landscaped grounds feature flower beds with plants that were common in the Victorian age, a fountain, and an assortment of unusual trees such as linden, Kentucky coffee, catalpa, walnut and evergreens.

The exterior renovation totaled just over $63,000 and the interior renovation cost approximately $140,000. The restoration was partially funded through State Historical Society grant funds. The Italianate architecture styled home evolved from a country residence, known as Lake Side, built to overlook Sloans Lake, and is now an ideal setting for special events and celebrations including weddings and receptions.