A century ago, Spencer and Julie Penrose established the Broadmoor Art Academy (BAA), which would become a home for painters, musicians, performing artists and dancers. In 1919 the couple donated their former residence on Dale Street, on the site of the current Fine Arts Center, to house the academy. The estate’s greenhouse and garage were remodeled into art studios and apartments for students. Luminary artists John Carlson and Robert Reid were the first instructors.
As was the intent, the Broadmoor Art Academy was attracting national attention by 1920. “Art is beginning to find the west, which is one of the surer signs of the absolute passing of the frontier, and the Broadmoor Art academy probably is one of the strongest mediums thru which art will find the west,” painter Maxfield Parrish told the Colorado Springs Gazette during his stay in Colorado Springs.
In 1926 the academy enrolled 72 students, including those in a junior department for young artists. They took classes and held exhibitions. Photographer Laura Gilpin Faust displayed her work Cathedral of Chartes alongside Elizabeth Spaulding’s watercolor landscapes in 1929. Students also took field trips to Garden of the Gods and Cheyenne Canyon to capture the rugged landscapes.
In 1935 the BAA was renamed the Fine Arts Center. The institution moved into its new home on Dale Street a year later. A Gazette article remarked, “In a short decade and a half, [it] has grown from an experimental venture as an art school and exhibit gallery to one of the finest institutions of its kind in the land, the center of much of the cultural life of a progressive community.”
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College has a full slate of activities scheduled throughout 2019.
By the Numbers
1,632: Students enrolled at the Broadmoor Art Academy from 1919-1936
405: Seats in the new auditorium in 1936
1921-23: Years the art academy provided vocational training to former servicemen
350+: Annual classes currently offered at FAC’s Bemis School of Art
22,000: Approximate number of pieces in the museum’s permanent collection