The first Europeans to explore the rugged beauty of our area were fur trappers. They named the creek that rushed from the Ute trail around Pikes Peak
the Fountaine qui Bouille (the Fountain that Boils) in honor of the many natural springs tributary to the stream. Today Fountain Creek passes through
the south side of the Blue Skies Inn property.
The advent of railroads to the Pikes Peak area brought the inevitable surveyors, two of whom were so struck by the beauty of Ute holy grounds in 1859 that
they named them "The Garden of the Gods."
Soon after, the Ute campgrounds along Fountain Creek were claimed by Dr. William Bell as a perfect site for a small town dedicated to exposing Easterners
afflicted with "consumption" and asthma to pure mountain air and the healing waters of the natural springs.
The town that Dr. Bell founded here was ultimately named "Manitou Springs." Exercising a Founding Father's privilege, Dr. Bell platted out a ten-acre estate for
himself just three blocks east of downtown on the far side of Fountain Creek from Manitou Avenue. He called his estate "Briarhurst" and in 1873 built a magnificent
manor house and carriage house.
The original manor house burned down twelve years later, whereupon Dr. Bell built an even larger version. That mansion
survived the intervening years well and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dr. Bell's Carriage House, which is (we think) the oldest standing structure in Manitou Springs, suffered a less dignified fate than the manor house. The eastern
portion of the Briarhurst estate which hosted this charming English Barn -- a splendid example of the Gothic Revival architecture popular at the end of the
Victorian era -- was split off from the manor house portion of the Briarhurst estate and was sadly neglected for years.
The Carriage House was being used as a storage shed adjunct to the Buffalo Bill Wax Museum when Sally first discovered the property in 1995.