Century-old family tie leading to revitalization of properties off Walnut/Mesa
A family tie going back a century has led to the redevelopment that started about two years ago on late 19th-century properties off Walnut Street and Mesa Road.
Showing the clearest evidence of improvement so far is the two-story house at 944 N. Walnut St, about a block north of Bristol Park. After being neglected for decades, it has been rebuilt in its original style, with the added touch of a broader front porch.
The house, sitting on a 10,625-square-foot parcel, is one of four adjoining properties that were formerly owned by the Llewellyn Mesa Road Family Limited Partnership. The other properties are at 1065 Mesa Road (4.1 acres with what used to be the Llewellyns' main house), 1012 Cooper Ave. (1.68 acres with a house) and 2.66 acres off Mesa Road.
In a recent interview, Bourgeois summarized his family's connection to the Walnut/Mesa land. His grandfather, Kimbal Stroud, was trained as a schoolteacher, but as a black man in Colorado Springs in 1910, that opportunity was politically denied, the grandson explained. So with a growing family and “desperately poor,” Stroud started a hauling business, delivering coal and cleaning ashes from residential furnaces, Bourgeois related.
Stroud bought the house at 810 N. Walnut. This was two blocks away from the large property at Walnut and Mesa, which was then an estate/farm owned by the Hagermans, a wealthy family involved in area railroads. Later, through marriage, the late Eleanor Llewellyn would inherit the property. "All of Kimbal's 11 children
At one point, upon learning that hunger was an issue for the family, the Hagermans allowed them to use part of the land to grow food for themselves.
The last of Bourgeois' family members to work there was his mother when he was a boy in the early 1960s and they lived in the house at 1012 Cooper. Eleanor Llewellyn owned the estate then, and for about three years employed Carl's mom, a trained educator and musician, to "work with her on books and music." In conjunction with that, Bourgeois said he and his siblings "would go over there every day."
It was also around that time, according to past Gazette news articles, that a feud started between the Llewellyns and the city, which resulted in the family ceasing to maintain the land and buildings.
Growing up and relocating to Denver but with nostalgic memories of his Llewellyn days, “I watched over the years as the property steadily deteriorated,” Bourgeois recalled.
Also influencing his eventual purchase decision, was his appreciation of the site as a "beautiful piece of property," along with his recognition that the Walnut-Mesa neighbors were unhappy with what was happening to it.
Eventually, he called one of the Llewellyn grandsons “and negotiated to do the deal,” he said.
After the 944 project (along with some less visible cleanup work on the 4.1-acre parcel), Bourgeois said he is still mulling what to focus on next. He knew going in that he could always just “tear everything down” and build high-density housing. “But I prefer restoration,” he said, describing the over-arching goal - in concert with Clifford Taylor Architects of Colorado Springs - as “making the property better than it ever was - a pristine property that the Westside can be proud of.”
The work at 944 N. Walnut presents “a sample of what we intend to do,” offering historic accuracy (“99 percent,” according to Bourgeois' construction foreman), as well as an interior showcasing modern technology and design.
The house is not on the market, Bourgeois clarified.
Westside Pioneer article