The History of The Taylor Estate
The phrase “If these walls could talk” reins true with this home – likely more than any other in the Denver area. This estate was home to the late Vernon F. and Ann Bonfoey Taylor, socialites in the burgeoning early days of Vail Mountain and a dynamic, jet-setting couple of their time.
In 1951 Vernon F. Taylor and his wife Ann Bonfoey Taylor relocated to Colorado and moved into this magnificent lakeside stone manor with staff quarters, full equestrian facilities, tennis courts, an outdoor pool, horses and fox-hunting hounds.
Both Vernon and Ann Taylor were fascinating in their own right. With friends and connections all over the world, the Taylors played a large role in putting Colorado, and specifically the town of Vail, on the international map.
Vernon Taylor graduated from Dartmouth College in 1939. A naval aviator during World War II, he joined his father in the family business, Westhoma Oil Co., after the war.
Ann 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. Ann started flying when she was 12 and later became a commercial flight instructor, one of just twenty-five women in the country at the time. Soon after she was enlisted by the US Army to train Air Corps cadets.
Ann Bonfoey had a sense of style and natural talent that was dynamic and compelling. She 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 where she unveiled the world’s first (very stylish) fanny pack.
With her own notability growing Ann Bonfoey met Vernon “Moose” Taylor Jr., when he stopped in her shop to purchase ski togs. She reportedly secretly followed Taylor on his ski trip to Canada and they were soon married. Ann Bonfoey Taylor was now becoming a cosmopolitan socialite doyenne and was featured for her fashion and design and pioneer ski wear designs on the pages of Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and Life Magazine.
The couple spent summers at this lakeside estate in Denver and winters in Vail. 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 4 lots at the base of a ski run on Rockledge Road.
Celebrities, socialites, royalty, famous photographers, important publishers and editors from across the globe were invited to both homes for elaborate dinner parties hosted by the Taylors. The guest list included Truman Capote, Gregory Peck, Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, Prince Philip and Princess Anne of Great Britain, famous New York socialite Nan Kempner, Vogue fashion editor Diana Vreeland and celebrity photographer Toni Firssell, to name a few.
The Taylor’s inviting demeanor and immense popularity brought a new “high society” to Vail and this once undiscovered ski town was slowly becoming the cosmopolitan mountain destination it is today. Ann Bonfoey Taylor amassed a collection of incredible custom designer wear over her many years of fashion popularity by the likes of Givenchy, Charles James, and Balenciaga. Now donated to the Phoenix Art Museum, this collection has toured the US offering glimpses of era couture at its height.
This 1932 architectural masterpiece, designed by renowned Denver architect, Burnham F. Hoyt, who was known for designing Red Rocks Amphitheater, as well as landmarks such as the Central Denver Public Library and State Capital Annex Building. Hoyt once regarded this residence as the most beautiful home in America.
The 26-room residence has a large drawing room built to receive guests and his-and-her master suites, 9 additional bedroom suites, 9 bathrooms, a formal banquet-sized dining room, chef’s kitchen, library, sitting rooms, offices, a flower-cutting room, 12 fireplaces, and quarters for a full-time staff.
The 122 private acres have direct views of Mount Evans and the Front Range. A lake cottage sited at Ward Lake has a dock, beach and boating privileges. This estate also includes a pool, tennis court, outdoor patios, a flower-cutting garden, dressage ring, stables, three staff cottages, water rights and agricultural status.