Happy Birthday: Garden of the Gods Club Turns 62 Years Old!
Next Monday, June 10, Garden of the Gods Club will celebrate its 62nd birthday. And what a great 62 years it’s been! What began as a dream to develop a beautiful area has since developed into one of the most sought-after locations in Colorado Springs. When Al Hill and his wife Margaret purchased the property in 1949, a legacy of excellence was set in motion.
Construction of Garden of the Gods Club began in May 1950. In September, the Hills gathered with Colorado and Texas friends for a dedication ceremony involving placement of a copper capsule into the lobby fireplace wall. A snapshot of the times, the capsule contained bubble gum, a bottle of Dr. Pepper, a Coke, a Hopalong Cassidy comic book, a plat of the survey for the development, current magazines and newspapers, brochures and curios commemorating Seven Falls, Jacoby’s book on Canasta, and “other items” that reportedly included an unlucky chameleon who scurried into the capsule the moment before it was sealed.
In 1951, the official grand opening celebration launched the Club as a premier private club in the western United States. Spread over three days, from June 14 to 16, Members enjoyed gourmet food live music, and dancing. That same year, The Gazette Telegraph described the club as a “mecca for those interested in fine taste and splendor.”
Not surprisingly, Garden of the Gods Club quickly became an exclusive retreat for Hollywood’s elite, captains of industry, and political and literary luminaries. Visitors included Robert Mitchum, Claudette Colbert, Gene Autry, John Wayne, and Walt Disney. Fascinating black-and-white photos from this era can be viewed in the hallway across from our Lodge Lounge. It was a bustling time during which Members and guests enjoyed the immaculate tennis courts, gorgeous pool, gourmet dining, and extravagant events.
Eventually, as the sport of golf grew in popularity, Al Hill’s golf buddies convinced him to add a golf course to the property. J. Press Maxwell designed a world-class, 18-hole, 7,000-yard golf course. Over 200 acres of Kentucky bluegrass and bentgrass were planted to create the course, named after the famous Kissing Camels rock formation at nearby Garden of the Gods Park. At the same time, the Hills built a Moroccan-themed clubhouse featuring a golf shop, locker rooms, as well as a dining room and lounge. Forty South Patio rooms were also added to the club to accommodate Members and their guests. The golf course officially opened for play in June of 1961.
As the Club continued to attract new members, the original clubhouse was eventually rebuilt. Designed by renowned architects Lake-Flato, its soaring glass and powerful stonework captured stunning views of Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak. In 1998, golf course architect Mark Rathert added nine holes to the Kissing Camels Golf Course, which brought the course to 27 holes.
Even after 62 years, the Club continues to be a gem in Colorado Springs, offering fine dining, a 27-hole championship golf course, a full-service Spa & Salon, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a Sports Club, and a Lodge. With such a great variety of offerings, the Club has become a beautiful backdrop for rich relationships, community, and fabulous memories. Happy birthday, Garden of the Gods Club!