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F.O. Stanley’s Life: Inspiration to Action

Inspiration to Action for Civic Leaders and Community Members

Planning is underway for training programs to accomplish a key part of the Historic Stanley Home Museum and Education Center’s mission. Examples from F.O. Stanley’s life will be used as inspiration to action on contemporary challenges for civic leaders and community members. Among the Inspiration to Action themes are:

Effective Civic Engagement: Stanley identified community needs, worked effectively with others, and then became an active participant in addressing those needs. He played a significant role in many projects that were of direct benefit to the Estes Park community. These included major infrastructure projects like road improvements from Lyons to Estes Park (which he helped improve twice), the first water company, the first hydroelectric plant, the first fish hatchery, and Estes Park’s first bank. Later he would be a part of establishing the Town’s first country club and golf course as well as playing an important supportive role in the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Innovator/Entrepreneur: From the age of nine, F.O. and his twin F.E. Stanley started a series of business ventures. They identified opportunities and then took advantage of them, from first making and selling wooden tops to playmates, crafting and selling wooden loom parts to local weavers, then making sap buckets for the local maple sugar business. After teaching for eight years, F.O. Stanley started a business selling school supplies, later joining his twin in the Stanley Dry Plate Company, then worked with his twin to build a steam automobile and create the Stanley Motor Carriage Company. Later, he built the Stanley Hotel (11 buildings in all – a tremendous and unprecedented achievement considering the time and place), and developed and manufactured the Stanley Mountain Wagon to transport visitors to and from Estes Park.

Education Advocate: Although he left teaching after eight years, Stanley continued his support of education throughout his life. A graduate of Herbron Academy in his native Maine, Stanley served as Board of Trustees President for 26 years. Among his many gifts to Hebron were a powerful telescope for its observatory, Stanley Arena (the first covered ice hockey facility in an American preparatory school), Stanley Infirmary, and $200,000 to build a new and badly-needed gymnasium. Stanley is also reported to have supported a number of students’ higher education by funding their tuition.

Supporter of the Arts: Growing up, the Stanley family emphasized the value of education including the arts, music, and poetry. At age 11, Stanley made his first violin under the guidance of his great-uncle, and then taught himself to play it. He also composed music for the violin and continued making violins of concert quality throughout his life. F.O. and his wife Flora loved classical music and had music rooms in their homes. The Stanley Hotel included both a music room and a music hall with concerts that were open to the people of Estes Park.

Philanthropist: Stanley donated land to the Town of Estes Park for a new school, and later donated 52 acres of land that became the Stanley Fairgrounds.

Persistence to Overcome Adversity: Stanley’s life included a series of challenges, from the fire that destroyed his first business producing school supplies to repeated bouts with tuberculosis. The recurrence of tuberculosis in 1903 was responsible for his arrival in Denver Colorado for treatment and resulted in his eventually spending all of his summers in Estes Park. When problems arose, he solved them. Faced with adversity, Stanley persisted and found a way to effectively deal with the challenges.

Audacious Foresight: At a time when the roads into the Estes Valley were suitable for travel only by horse or oxcart, Stanley imagined that, as his living in the area had helped restore his health, the valley could become a major tourist destination for others. He took bold and coordinated action to realize his vision. As the pedestal inscription beneath Stanley’s statue in front of the Stanley Hotel reads: “The Stanley legacy in Estes Park…is far larger and more enduring than any of the historic structures that bear his name. It is a legacy that extends to community and region and to the dreams of a remarkable man who through ingenuity, courage and persistence found ways to harness the emerging technological forces of the twentieth century to make those dreams a reality.”

Please join us in preserving and celebrating the life and accomplishments of F.O and Flora Stanley by supporting the mission of the Historic Stanley Home Foundation to purchase, renovate, preserve and operate Rockside, the F.O. Stanley home, as the Historic Stanley Home Museum and Education Center. To learn more or find out how you can be a part of this important effort, Like Us on Facebook at. You can also call the museum at 970-235-0062 for more information.