Stanley Home Museum Review: An Estes Park Legacy Unveiled

Estes Park is a stunningly beautiful town nestled in the Rocky Mountains, but it wasn’t always the bustling tourist town it is today. Many individuals helped this town rise to where it’s at now over the last century, but one of those people who stands out is F.O. Stanley.

If you find yourself in Estes Park, I highly suggest paying a visit to the Stanley Home Museum. It offers a unique opportunity to delve into the captivating story of this legendary individual and his remarkable contributions to both Estes Park and the surrounding region of Rocky Mountain National Park.

What is the Stanley Home Museum?

The Stanley Home Museum is a new historic house museum in Estes Park, Colorado. Built in 1904 by Freelan Oscar (“F.O.”) Stanley and his wife Flora, it’s a fine example of Colonial Revival architecture and it was used by the Stanley’s as a summer home for decades.

Furnished with period pieces throughout the rooms, the museum takes you back to the early 1900s while allowing you to learn about the remarkable contributions this couple made to the Estes Park area. If you have an interest in history, entrepreneurship, or town development, this tour will be right up your alley.

Stanley Home Museum

Where is the Stanley Home Museum?

The Stanley Home Museum is located at: 415 W Wonderview Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517.

Be aware that your Google Maps might do something weird when you input this address and will try to take you to the Stanley Hotel. So just know that it is about 1 mile from the Estes Park Visitor Center on Wonderview Ave.

Just look for the Stanley Home Museum sign on the side of the road whenever you are coming into town.

There is free parking available at the museum and they are currently working on upgrading the parking situation.

On occasion, you may need to take a shuttle from the visitor center to the museum, especially if you are visiting during one of the special events when there is traffic heading to the area.

If you want to book tickets for the musuem, you can do that here.

Stanley Home Museum sign

Visiting the Stanley Home Museum

It’s one thing to visit Estes Park and enjoy the beautiful nature trails, exciting wildlife, and amazing places to eat before returning home content and satiated.

But it’s even more fulfilling to take a little bit of time to learn about the history of the region and how it came into existence, especially since it involves such a unique and influential figure as F.O. Stanley.

You’ll find yourself becoming more connected to the region and thus having a more meaningful experience, and the Stanley Home Museum is one of the best places to develop this type of deep appcreciation.

As you get taken from room to room, more of the “Stanley story” will begin to come together.

You’ll realize just how far reaching F.O.’s impact was, be it through the iconic Stanley Hotel, the creation of tourism-enhancing roads, the establishment of a power plant that illuminated the town, or even his role in the formation of Rocky Mountain National Park.

It’s pretty inspiring to hear about all of the accomplishments. If you have an admiration for history and the entrepreneurial spirit, you’ll undoubtedly depart from this tour with an immense sense of reverence for the remarkable endeavors F.O. tirelessly pursued throughout his lifetime.

Related: Estes Park Museum: A Free Look Back at This Rocky Mountain Town’s Past

Stanley hotel

Our tour started off with watching a short, well-done video that gives a good overview of F.O. Stanley. After watching the intro video, you have a sense of the wide range of talents and passions that F.O. Stanley had, encompassing everything from his expertise in crafting and playing violins to his proficiency in billiards. He was an extremely well-rounded individual.

Related: Historic Park Theatre in Estes Park: Experience A Century of Movie Magic

After watching the video, it was time to venture inside the house with our passionate and knowledgable tour guide who always kept things interesting, sharing insight on even the smallest details.

We started with the beautiful entryway where we encountered original furniture and woodland-themed wallpaper depicting majestic mountains and lush trees, all of which were beautifully preserved thanks to diligent owners over the years.

Stanley Home Museum interior

You’ll also be blown away by the chandelier suspended overhead, casting a radiant glow throughout the space. Additionally, you’ll be impressed by the sight of the grand staircase. With its its intricate details, it embodies the type of elegance and grandeur the Stanley’s brought over from their East Coast home.

Related: Stanley Hotel Shining Tour Review: The Supernatural Birthplace of an Iconic Horror Film

Stanley Home Museum interior

Next, we proceeded to the breathtaking patio, offering awe-inspiring vistas of the majestic Front Range mountains, including the beloved Longs Peak.

Here, we delved into the captivating tale of Stanley’s initial sojourn to Estes Park, driven by his pursuit of improved health following his battle with recurring tuberculosis back east. It seems that the clean air in these mountains did a wonder for him but I’m sure that the views also helped.

Stanley Home Museum mountain view

Then we made our way into the stunning emerald colored living room.

This room is exquisitely decorated with vintage furnishings, showcasing treasures such as a piano, violin, and an antique organ. Commanding attention as the focal point of the room is a custom built fireplace, complete with the enduring inscription of the Stanley’s name on the inside. Be sure to give it a look!

Stanley Home Museum interior living room

Both FO and his wife had a profound passion for the arts and were quite skilled with the type of instruments that lie before you.

Stanley Home Museum interior
Stanley Home Museum interior organ

Then we proceeded to the elegant dining room, where you can put your observational skills to the test by identifying the various utensils gracefully arranged on the table.

As you immerse yourself in the ambiance created by this original table used by the Stanley’s, you’ll discover some of the peculiar traditions of F.O. Stanley. And who knows, you might even possess the ingenuity to unravel one of the enigmatic dinner party riddles presented to you.

Stanley Home Museum dining interior

After experiencing the wonders of the lower level, it was now time for us to ascend the grand staircase in all its splendor.

Stanley Home Museum interior staircase
Stanley Home Museum interior

The first room we entered was the old office of F.O. Stanley. It was in here that we got really familiar with the entrepreneur stories of both F.O. Stanley and his identical twin, F.E. Stanley.

They’re well known for their contributions to the automotive industry, particularly as the founders of the Stanley Motor Carriage Company.

Their steam-powered automobiles gained tremendous popularity, becoming a favorite choice among the masses. These vehicles even had the honor of transporting President William McKinley, marking a historic moment as the first sitting president to travel in an automobile.

Not only did they achieve remarkable feats in terms of speed and uphill challenges like the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race in Colorado, but they also became iconic figures in popular culture, demonstrated by beloved movies like Cars, which featured the character “Stanley, ” a Stanley Steamer.

But perhaps to your surprise, you’ll learn that they didn’t make the big bucks with automobiles — but instead with something else.

Stanley Home Museum interior
Stanley Home Museum interior

After checking out the office, we were granted the opportunity to explore several bedrooms, including that of Mr. Stanley himself.

As you step into these rooms, you’ll hear more about the personal side of these iconic individuals. Narratives unfold about their unwavering support for one another during times of adversity and you really get a sense of the strength of their relationship. It becomes evident that their shared determination and camaraderie played a crucial role in their accomplishments.

Stanley Home Museum bedroom

When you enter Flora’s room, you’ll learn about her role in organizing events and gatherings at the Stanley Hotel, including concerts, dances, and tea parties. Also, you’ll hear how she made significant contributions to the local community and her endeavors in writing poetry and travelogues.

Stanley Home Museum bedroom

You’ll also get a chance to visit the housekeeper’s room. Unlike many house maids of the time, she had a good relationship with FO Stanley, evidenced by her gravestone which was no doubt financed by F.O.

Stanley Home Museum bedroom

Final word

The Stanley Home Museum offers a valuable opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation for the achievements of F.O. and Flora Stanley and, more importantly, to foster a meaningful connection with the region’s history.

When exploring Estes Park, you will likely come across the Stanley name in lots of different contexts, and visiting a museum like this can greatly assist in connecting all the pieces together.

It serves as a significant resource for understanding the legacy of the Stanley family and the broader historical context of the area. I’d highly recommend giving it a visit.

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