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Identification:

Preferred Structure Name:
McGraw Ranch HD Main House
Structure Number:
HS-1000
Other Structure Name(s):
 
Other Structure Name(s)
1. 
Indian Head Ranch
2. 
=Y Ranch
3. 
=X Ranch
4. 
Indian Head Ranch Lodge
Park:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Historic District:
 
Historic District
1. 
McGraw Ranch
Structure State:
Colorado
Structure County:
Larimer
Region:
Intermountain
Cluster:
Rocky Mountain
Administrative Unit:
Rocky Mountain National Park
LCS ID:
052777
 
Historical Significance:

National Register Status:
Entered - Documented
National Register Date:
09/22/1998
National Historic Landmark?:
No
Significance Level:
Local
Short Significance Description:
Significant under criterion A for its association with the development of the resort industry (1884-1948) and under criterion C for its rustic architecture.
Long Significance Description:
McGraw Ranch is significant for its association with the growth of the resort industry in Colorado. Like many parcels in the Estes Park vicinity, McGraw Ranch evolved from a cattle ranch to a guest ranch in the early part of the twentieth century. The McGraws provided the ideal western vacation: horseback riding, steak fries, and trips into Rocky Mountain National Park. The family operated the ranch from 1936 until the late 1970's. During that time, many guests returned summer after summer, making McGraw Ranch part of their family traditions.

The earliest known resident was Henry "Buckskin" Farrar, one of the earliest hunting guides in the region. In 1875, he built the first house on land that would become Estes Park. Farrar moved this cabin to the Cow Creek Valley. Before earning his patent, Farrar sold the land to Peter J. Pauley, Jr. who established the =Y Ranch, erected a barn in 1884, and ran more than 2,500 head of cattle. In 1897, the Pauley family sold the 160-acre homestead to Hugo S. Miller. Miller and Henry C. Rouse purchased extensive lands adjoining the ranch in the 1880's. Like the Earl of Dunraven, Rouse hired men to file claims and transfer their acreage to him. Using both honest and dishonest methods, Rouse acquired one thousand acres. When he died in 1907, Miller inherited his ranch.

In 1907, Philadelphians John J. and Irene McGraw honeymooned in Estes Park where they met Hugo and Mary Miller who invited the newlyweds to visit the =Y. The McGraws were surprised to find an elegant, comfortable house. They returned the next summer and leased the property from the Millers. And the following May, the McGraws purchased the ranch (changing the brand to the =X). They continued cattle ranching, unprofitably. The McGraws had four children, James, John, Frank, and Dolly, before John, Sr.'s death in 1917. Irene originally intended to sell the ranch, but she decided it would be the ideal place to raise her children. With the help of Spotswood Stone, a Philadelphian, she continued the ranch operations. Like many cattle ranch families in the area, the McGraws converted the cattle ranch to a guest ranch in 1935-36. The McGraws built several cabins and converted others for guests. McGraw Ranch's motto was "Rough It with Ease," and the family made sure guests were comfortable as they experienced the beautiful setting. Three generations of the McGraw family tended the ranch until 1973. The property changed hands several times until 1988 when the National Park Service purchased it. The park originally intended to raze the structures and restore the natural landscape, but the residents of Estes Park insisted the park reconsider. A new plan for the guest ranch--converting it into a research facility--saved the complex. The Keeper of the National Register made McGraw Ranch a historic district in 1998. The historic district also includes several landscape features such as the balm of Gilead trees and spruce trees, the "liars bench," the hitching rail, the stone planter, the roads and walkways.

The original portion of the house was built in the 1880's utilizing logs harvested on the ranch and milled at a sawmill about a mile west. After 1936, the large ranch house was expanded and became the focus of activity. Ruth McGraw described "the lodge, [as] a warm hospitable place where guests, family, and staff gathered before meals and in the evening to plan for the following day." Guests rocked on the large front porch and the dining room always had coffee, lemonade, or ice tea ready for guests, visitors, and hikers. Three dining rooms served ranch guests. The living room contained a piano and organ used for nightly singing.
 
Construction Period:

Construction Period:
Historic
Chronology:
 
Physical Event
Begin Year
Begin Year AD/BC
End Year
End Year AD/BC
Designer
Designer Occupation
1. 
Built
1884
AD


Pauley, Peter J.
Other
2. 
Altered
1920
AD


McGraw, Irene
Other
3. 
Altered
1936
AD


McGraw, Irene
Other
4. 
Altered
1980
AD


Katona, Catherine
Other
5. 
Rehabilitated
1999
AD
2003
AD
NPS

 
Function and Use:

Primary Historic Function:
Lodge (Inn, Cabin)
Primary Current Use:
Multi-Use Building
Structure Contains Museum Collections?:
Yes
Other Functions or Uses:
 
Other Function(s) or Use(s)
Historic or Current
1. 
Single Family House
Historic
 
Physical Description:

Structure Type:
Building
Volume:
20,000 - 2,000,000 cubic feet
Square Feet:
3850
Material(s):
 
Structural Component(s)
Material(s)
1. 
Walls
Shingle
2. 
Foundation
Concrete
3. 
Framing
Wood
4. 
Roof
Asphalt
5. 
Foundation
Stone
6. 
Walls
Weatherboard
Short Physical Description:
One-and-a-half story frame building with an intersecting gable and hipped roof, covered in green asphalt shingles. There are overhanging eaves and exposed rafters. The walls are split log, shingle, drop siding, and log veneer siding. The foundation is stone and concrete.
Long Physical Description:
The lodge is a one-and-a-half story frame building with irregular plan composed of the original central section of the house and several later small additions. The building has a complex roofline with central, steeply pitched gable; gabled and hipped projections on the west, east, and north; and two shed roof shingled dormers (south and west) with exposed rafters. The roof is clad with green asphalt shingles (originally green-painted wood shingles, the park modified this during rehabilitation 2000) and has overhanging eaves and exposed rafters. The wall of the front of the house is composed of split, unpeeled logs. The raised foundation of the building is composed of native stone.

A full-width open porch extends across the front of the building. The porch has wood post supports, a wood board floor laid perpendicular to the house, and a raised stone foundation capped by a layer of concrete. Angled concrete stair walls flank central concrete entrance steps. The house has an off-center entrance, with three windows to the west and one window to the east. The porch features views of the entrance road to the ranch, the rock formation known as Old Woman or Indian Head Mountain, and meandering Cow Creek.

The eastern face is clad with variegated decorative shingles and is split by a tapered, full-height, stone chimney covered with concrete. On the east wall is a hipped roof, enclosed porch with walls of painted drop siding, a paneled and glazed door, and multiple windows. In front of the porch is an uncovered porch extension with board balustrade atop a stone and concrete base. A rear entrance to the east porch has a shed hood with triangular braces facing a concrete stoop. The entrance has a paneled and glazed door and a screen with spindled trim. The rear entrance has a sign reading "office." The east porch was enclosed before 1936, as visiting presidential candidate Alf Landon used the area as a den where he wrote his speeches.

The west wall of the house is composed of peeled logs, except for a top unpeeled log. The west has a one-story gabled projection with walls clad with log veneer siding, a wood shingle roof, and a raised stone foundation with concrete trim. A paneled door is on the south wall of the projection. The park removed the non-historic brick chimney from this façade during restoration.

The rear of the building has an intersecting one-and-a-half-story gable with decorative shingles on the gable face and paired, six-light sliding windows. A small, concrete-covered chimney is in the center of the gable. The rear wall is clad with log veneer siding with corner boards and has a raised stone foundation with concrete trim. Several additions of various eras were made to the rear of the building. A one-story rear hipped roof projection has log veneer siding and a shed roof extension with drop siding. The park removed the 1980's addition that was gabled and clad with wide lap siding. An older shed roof section with walls of unpeeled split logs and wood shingles, sits to the rear. The shed roof section is cantilevered outward and has triangular braces and four-light windows.