In 1900, Colorado Springs’s founder General Palmer, whose own estate, Glen Eyrie, was just North of the Chambers’, began buying additional land in the Camp Creek Valley. He paid the Chambers $17,000 for their 160-acre farm, but most importantly he purchased their water rights to Camp Creek. Palmer rebuilt and expanded the Chambers’ irrigation system that diverted Camp Creek’s water. He also built additional reservoirs. General Palmer did all of this to carry the life-giving water to the many acres of hay fields that he cultivated in the valley.
William and Charlotte Sclater
In 1906, General Palmer, invited his sister-in-law, Charlotte, and her husband, William, to move to Colorado Springs from their home in Cape Town, South Africa. William Sclater was a well-known British ornithologist, and during his brief stay in Colorado Springs, Palmer encouraged him to write a book on the birds of Colorado. Sclater accomplished the task while directing the natural history museum at Colorado College. Charlotte Sclater, who had previously lived in Colorado Springs as a young woman, spent much of her time caring for General Palmer, who was by this time, paralyzed, as the result of a riding accident in 1906. In 1907, Palmer commissioned the construction of a country estate, called Orchard House, on the Rock Ledge Ranch property expressly for the Sclaters. The house was designed by architect, Thomas MacLaren, who was at the height of his career crafting villas and resort homes for the wealthy new residents of the city. The Orchard House was a modern country home in the Cape Dutch or South African Colonial style valued at $20,000. The interiors were uncluttered and tastefully decorated in Mission and American Colonial styles. The home had the most modern conveniences such as electricity, plumbing, coal heating system, and running water. Mr. & Mrs. Sclater lived in the home until the Palmer’s death in 1909, when they returned to England.