In the early 1960’s, Falcon Estates was developed as a residential neighborhood and since that time has evolved from an isolated community on the northern outskirts of Colorado Springs to an enclave almost in the core of the city. Much has transpired during these years and the purpose of this document is to capture the more significant milestones and events affecting these changes.
This history will cover the early days when the land area was part of the Thomas L. Parkes (Mabelle D.) ranch and governed by El Paso County, to when the neighborhood was annexed into the City of Colorado Springs, to present day where most of the lots have been developed and many homes have new residents and the homes themselves have gone through significant renovations.
THE EARLY DAYS
Falcon Estates was the brainchild of Floyd Stanley, William E. Wiley, and the Grant brothers, H.G. and G.F. The following article from the June 26, 1960 Gazette Telegraph provides a good summary of the start of the subdivision:
FALCON ESTATES, NEW HOME AREA, TO HOLD OPEN HOUSE
A formal opening will be held today of Falcon Estates, a new subdivision five miles north of Colorado Springs and south and adjacent to the U. S. Air Force Academy grounds on U. S. Highway 85-87. Visitors calling at an office on the tract will be shown the sites which have been prepared for sale in the first 200-acre area of 280 acres acquired by the Falcon Estates Co. Officers of the company, Floyd Stanley, president, and William E Wiley, H. F. Grant and G. F. Grant, will show visitors around.
The home sites are one and two and one-half acres in extent. They total 500 sites and Stanley said that about 40 have already been sold, mostly to officers at the Air Force Academy. As the area adjoins the Air Force Academy grounds Stanley said it is to be developed as a subdivision in which Air Force officers and faculty members may want to establish homes for the time of their retirement. He said that arrangements for building have already been made by some of the purchasers.
The Falcon Estates subdivision comprises land that was the Thomas L. Parker ranch. The ranch home is still on it.
Stanley has been with the local real estate firm of Walker and Co. for five years. Wiley also is with the Walker and Co. H. E. and G. F. Grant are members of Grant Motors of Knob Hill. Stanley resides at 14 Crescent Lane. He is a member of the Masonic order, the Chamber of Commerce and the Elks club. He is married and the couple have a son.
Falcon Estates is zoned for subdividing into plots for single family residences. These properties are offered for sale in one-acre tracts for $2,500 and two and one-half acre tracts for $5,500, according to a brochure that has been issued. The brochure states that a geological survey proves an abundance of unrestricted pure drinking water underlying the surface of the estates. At present two wells, it is stated, can provide 200,000 gallons of water a day. A buyer is to provide an individual water supply system (well) at time of construction. Electric, telephone and natural gas service is presently available, the brochure states, and sewage disposal will be by individual septic tank and drain field, in accordance with county health requirements, the buyer to provide septic tank and install it at the time of construction.
Every site will be on a road with access to the main highway 85-87 and the new county road connecting the Templeton Gap Road with the south entrance to the Air Academy grounds. These roads will be constructed, the brochure says, at no cost to the buyer and will be constructed in accordance with requirements of El Paso County. A purchaser is not required to build within a certain time limit. (End of Article)
When Falcon Estates was first being developed the requirement was to have 5-acre estates bordering the US Air Force Academy. As the area developed, that requirement was changed to allow 2 1/2 acres lots immediately adjacent to the Academy and other parts of the development were platted for 1-acre lots. In the early days, these 1-acre lots sold for about $2,500.
In its inception, Falcon Estates was horse country. Many residents in the area owned horses, and it was common to see them being ridden through the neighborhood. For many years there was a barn and riding circle near Woodmen and I-25 where Ent Credit Union and Carrabbas are now located. One anecdote tells of a neighbor who rode her horse to Norma’s Stop & Shop for food for the neighbors following a major snow storm. Norma’s was a local grocery store located on the corner of York and Academy where the Conoco gas station is currently located. Although most residents don’t have horses these days, city zoning still allows 1-acre lots or larger to have horses.
In 1960, Colorado Springs played host to a Boy Scout Jamboree ateended by 52,000 scouts and leaders. The site of the Jamboree was to the north of Filing 2 currently occupied by the Grand Canyon apartments, Kelly Johnson Road and Chapel Hills Mall.
The roads in Falcon Estates are named after many Air Force officers who served in the Colorado Springs area or were investors in Falcon Estates. Many had gained notoriety in World War II and the Korean War For example, Grashio Road is named after Sam Grashio.
Sam Grashio was born in Spokane, WA and attended Gonzaga University. In 1938 after two years in college, Sam entered the Army Air Corps’ flight training program and earned his wins in April, 1941. In November, 1941, he shipped out for the Philippines and arrived there just days before Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. A few days later, the Japanese attacked the Philippine Islands and for a few months the American and Philippine forces fought the Japanese invasion. For Sam Grashio, the fighting ended for a while in April, 1942 when he was captured and became one of the prisoners forced to march from Bataan to prisoner of war camps. This march, the Infamous Bataan Death March, his subsequent imprisonment, and eventual escape and experiences as a guerilla fighter with the Philippine insurgents are graphically described in the book “Return to Freedom” co-authored with Bernard Norling. The latter was an author and professor of history at the University of Notre Dame who Sam met after the war. Sam retired from the Air Force in 1965 after numerous assignments around the world including Colorado Springs. After the Air Force, Sam worked for Gonzaga University and retired from there in 1977. He passed away in Spokane in the late 1990s.
The Chapel Hills area received its name from a small, wooden white chapel that for many years sat on the land that is currently occupied by the USAA building.
The Woodmen Water District (Also known as the Woodmen Water & Sanitation District, although the District has never had a sanitation capability) was formed in 1961 to serve Falcon Estates and adjoining neighborhoods. The District plant facility and Wells #1, 2, & 3 are still located on Stinson Road. The District consisted of eight wells that drew from the Arapahoe Aquifer. As part of the Annexation agreement approved in 1994, the District was dissolved in February of 1995 and the water facilities were turned over to the City of Colorado Springs.
When Falcon Estates was first established, fire protection was provided by El Paso County. During that time, the county’s fire protection was designed primarily to fight wildfires and was not prepared to fight structure fires. This came to light in a 1976 fire that destroyed an apartment complex in Yorkshire. In that fire, Donald Wescott, a fireman, was killed and as a result in 1981 the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District was formed. The District was staffed primarily with volunteers and a few permanent staff. Following the annexation in 1994, the City of Colorado Springs took over fire protection of Falcon Estates.
In 1994, the Colorado Springs City Council approved the annexation of the Falcon Estates, Columbine and Yorkshire neighborhoods into the city. One major reason for the annexation was that the managers of the Woodmen Water District that serviced the area felt the water system would need significant upgrades to comply with EPA requirements. Another major issue was that the residents who lived along Academy Blvd and Woodmen Road were having problems selling their homes because of the increased traffic along those roads. Also, sections of the neighborhood such as the current locations of Sam’s Club and Home Depot had already broken off and been annexed into the city.
In response to these issues and in an effort to protect the remaining residents, in 1990, an effort was undertaken to annex Falcon Estates into the city. To be annexed, the city required a master plan, and as a result Falcon Estates joined the Columbine and Yorkshire neighborhoods, who were facing similar issues, to develop the required plan. The neighborhoods raised the required funds and hired the NES land use planners to assist in developing the master plan.
Numerous neighborhood meetings were held to define the requirements of each of the neighborhoods. The major issue facing Falcon Estates was the changing of the zoning along Academy Blvd from residential to commercial. To accommodate the adjoining neighbors, a requirement was put in the master plan for the commercial developers to build a wall between the commercial properties and the adjoining neighbors. Another plan requirement is that the commercial properties could not go further than two lots deep into the residential neighborhood. This latter requirement had to be modified in some cases because of the shape of the lots, but for the most part it has remained in tact.
As part of the agreement with the city, the neighborhood was accepted into the city “as is.” That is, the city did not require the neighborhood to be brought up to city standards such as requiring curb and gutter for the roads at the expense of the homeowners.
Also, because most of the residents use septic systems it is important to note the city requires that residents whose septic systems fail and are within 400 feet of a city sewer service line must hook into the city sewer at their own expense.
For anyone interested in a detailed look at the land use of this area in the early days, the Home Owners Association of Falcon Estates (HOAFE) has copies of maps and aerial photos of the area from the early 1960’s. Additional information can be found at the Pioneer Museum, El Paso County Planning Department and Regional Building.
Jack & Rosemary Anderson