Saturday, April 19, 2014
All roads lead to Walter Paris
Art and the ice business, Palmer Lake and Cripple Creek, Professor Ferdinand Hayden and the U.S. Government Geological Survey, local architecture, and Rudyard Kipling's Nobel Prize for Literature ... all roads lead to Paris.
Walter Paris, that is. He arrived in the Pikes Peak area in the Summer of 1873. In his youth, Paris, an esteemed English-trained architect had been appointed assistant architect in Bombay, by the English government. He had befriended John Lockwood Kipling, who was professor at the Bombay School of Art, at the time.
"One morning December of 1865, John Kipling rushed over to Paris' bungalow to announce that his wife had given birth to a 12-pound boy. A few days later, Paris went to see the infant and help him in his arms. The infant's name was Rudyard Kipling, who grew up to be one of the most famous British writers in India and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 1907. Paris maintained a friendship with the Kiplings and their son, and by 1899, when Rudyard Kipling was living in Vermont, Paris rightfully consider himself Kipling's oldest, friend," writes Palmer Lake historian Daniel W. Edwards in a historical paper for the Palmer Lake Historical Society in July of 2010.
By 1873, Walter Paris was painting water color sketches in around the Pikes Peak region. He continued to design buildings in Colorado, including an office building on Tejon Street in Colorado Springs, and a school in west Denver, but also set in motion plans for an Ice House near Divide Lake in northern El Paso County.
Divide Lake (later rechristened Palmer Lake) was leased from the railroad and Paris built an ice house there that could store 2,000 tons of ice to be sold in Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
Paris and W.S. Hannaford established the Fountain Ice Company and purchased existing ice houses in Colorado Springs and Manitou.
"The company's ice house at Palmer Lake was completed by the end of 1873, and there is one tantalizing reference to Paris sending carpenters to build, if not the beginnings of town, at least some houses at Divide Lake where workers at his plant could spend the winter. If Paris did construct housing facilities, it indicates there was a small settlement at the future site of Palmer Lake long before Thompson began his development efforts in 1883," writes Dan Edwards.
Paris joined the Prof. Ferdinand Hayden's U.S. Geological Survey team that documented first intoYellowstone region of Wyoming in the early 1870s was working as an artist for the survey in the fall of 1874.
"Mr. Walter Paris, who has been accompanying Professor Hayden's party in their trip northward from Colorado Springs, along the base of the mountains, has made a number of sketches of scenery in Pleasant Park and other localities along the route, and extends and invitation to our citizens to call at his studio and look them over," reported the Colorado Springs Gazette on Oct. 24, 1874.
But he became restless. In January 1875, Paris wrote to Hayden in Washington, at the time.
"I feel that a reputation is not to be gained in an out-of-the-way place like Colorado Springs, and the best plan to make one's self known is to come East and exhibit my works, and should I succeed in getting commissions to paint views of this part of country I can come West in May or June next..."
He did so by March of that year as reported in Washington papers but still had not sold all of his property in Colorado as late as 1881, when records show as owner of an ice house and nine acres of land in Colorado Springs.
Paris returned to Colorado several times in the ensuing years and sketched a number of scenes in and around Cripple Creek in 1892.
"Mr. Walter Paris has returned from Cripple Creek bringing with him some excellent sketches of the town from various points in the vicinity and two water colors of mountain scenery. He also has a very vigorous sketch the main street while the fire was in progress Wednesday night," reported the Colorado Springs paper.
Described as "a large man, broad-shoulders, well-built, and wore a mustache and full beard squarely cut," in the Dictionary of American Biography, he seemed to be well-connected here in the U.S. and his native England, in fact attending a White House reception hosted by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905. He died in Washington in November of 1906 at the age of 54 from the effects of a stroke.
"He had a dignity which verged on pomposity and was slow and heavy in movement and speech, and latter distinctly British in accent... Of his own work and attainments he held high opinion, and not infrequently frankly expressed, and he was intolerant of criticism, but this characteristic also may been only the armor worn to protect a supersensitive nature," according to the Dictionary of American Biography.
Photo caption: Ferdinand V. Hayden (left), who led the 1871 expedition of Yellowstone, talks with his assistant Walter Paris.