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Castle Rock, CO

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Highlands Ranch, CO

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The Metro District of Highlands Ranch is a community actually consisting of seven Metro Districts located primarily South of E-470 between Santa Fe Drive and Quebec St. The population of the area exceeds 90,000 people who reside in nearly 30,000 homes and more than 3,000 apartments. Within Highlands Ranch there are 22 parks, more than 70 miles of trails, and 2,000 acres of natural open space areas. Eighty-five percent of the homes in the community are located within one quarter mile of a park, open space area or trail.

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In addition, there are two skate parks, an outdoor inline hockey rink, four dog areas, eight tennis courts, three lighted ball fields, an historic park, three community gardens and the Backcountry Wilderness Area. There are also four community recreation centers serving the community. Highlands Ranch is within the Douglas County School District and is served by 12 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 3 high schools a charter school and an academy.

The current community of Highlands Ranch was founded in 1981, but the first settlers built their lives in this area more than 100 years ago. Dad Rufus H. "Potato" Clark was the Potato King of Colorado and one of the early builders of the community. Rufus was a philanthropist in the Denver area donating 80 acres of land and giving money to a Methodist college, which later became the University of Denver at University Park. He also sold some of his land to the City of Denver to start Jewell Park and Overland Park. Dad Clark Park, Dad Clark Drive and Dad Clark Gulch are named for this local historic figure that supported parks and left a mark on the region's history.

The more than 100 year old Highlands Ranch Mansion and ranch are valuable pieces of history. The mansion encompasses 17,000 square feet and the barns and ranch building expand over 41,000 square feet has been the home to many of Denver's notable families.

The mansion was built by John Springer who moved to Denver due to his wife's ill health. In 1891, he began construction of the mansion and completed almost 60 percent of the present building. Springer sold the ranch to Colonel Hughes, in 1913 who named the property Sunland Ranch. Upon his death, the mansion was sold in 1920 to Waite Phillips, a founder of Phillips Petroleum, and he first introduced the name “Highlands Ranch.” In 1926, Phillips sold the mansion to Frank E. Kistler who called it the Diamond K Ranch. (You will find there are Highlands Ranch parks named after both Kistler and the Diamond K Ranch.) He added the final 40 percent of the mansion and altered the style to a classic Tudor. Kistler then sold the property to the Phipps family in 1937. The Phipps family has long been a prominent name in Colorado industry including construction, trucking, professional sports, including the Denver Broncos, ranching and real estate. The Phipps family acquired the property as a residence and a working ranch and renamed it Highlands Ranch.

Phipps, Jr. owned the property until his death in 1976. The entire ranch was then sold to businessman Marvin Davis, who organized the Highlands Venturers Corporation to market the property. The Mission Viejo Company then entered the picture in 1979 and officially became the new owners of Highlands Ranch. Residential construction began the next year. In 1997, Mission Viejo sold Highlands Ranch to Shea Homes who currently owns the mansion.

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