Cherokee welcomes James Holmes as new Executive Director
~Anne Marie Boger, Weblink and Marketing Specialist
Tweet Kimball established the Cherokee Ranch & Castle Foundation which entered into a Conservation Easement for the property on December 10, 1996. This unique venue facilitates a house museum, wildlife conservation, land preservation and has become a treasured venue for a variety of activities and site of many elegant parties. At Cherokee Ranch & Castle you can enjoy lunch on the terrace with a sprawling view from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak, take a geology hike to explore the Colorado’s largest petrified wood forest, or enjoy a front row seat to a Blues concert.
There’s opportunities for high tea, castle tours, and farm to table dinners. The venue is so stunning, couples dreams come true with beautiful weddings on the veranda. Artists have recorded full albums in the great hall and music videos in the courtyard. The list goes on: private corporate events, celebration of life ceremonies, youth education excursions, wine tastings, and marquee birthday parties. Cherokee Ranch & Castle is an exquisite part of Colorado and has been since 1954. So what’s new?
So as another chapter begins for the history of Cherokee Ranch & Castle, what does Colorado have to look forward to? We stopped by Cherokee Ranch to ask the new Executive Director himself.
On the history of Cherokee… The history of Cherokee is very important to Holmes and one of the reasons why he is so passionate about his new position. The Castle was built in 1924 by the Charles Johnson; their original vision for the land was a summer home for his family. As time went on, the family found themselves using the castle less and less, and sold their summer home and surrounding properties to Tweet Kimball, a southern belle and debutante from Tennessee. Tweet needed a new home after a divorce settlement, which included her husband’s purchase of a new home for Tweet as long as she moved West of the Mississippi. In 1954 Tweet and her two young sons Richard and Kirk moved to then “Charlesford” before renaming the property Cherokee Ranch.
Tweet was a trailblazer with a strong interest in cattle. Inspired by the unique Santa Gertrudis of the King Ranch, which initially refused to sell their warm climate cattle to Tweet for a ranch in Colorado. Never one to accept no for an answer, Tweet found another seller and for the first time the Santa Gertrudis breed was introduced to Colorado; this was the onset of her cattle ranching business. A business that still exists today, there are now 140 Getrudis that call Cherokee their home. Tweet went on to establish the Rocky Mountain Santa Gertrudis Association and become the first woman to ever serve on the National Western Stock Show’s Board of Directors, among numerous other accomplishments as a respected cattle rancher.
On Tweet’s legacy… In 1996, Tweet worked to establish the Cherokee Ranch & Castle Foundation, a conservation easement that protects the land as a wildlife sanctuary. She passed away in 1999, and the Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers have been keeping her legacy alive since. Her passion for the music, art, and literature has “inspired us to make Cherokee a prominent venue for music,” Holmes said. He feels it’s what she would have been pleased to see, and went on to say he feels an obligation to uphold what Tweet would have wanted.
On Holmes’ legacy… “What is it that I would want my lasting legacy to be? With a lot of non-profits, you hear about the legacy of their Directors, so if someone 20 years from now were discussing mine, I would want people to look back and say that James Holmes fully restored Tweet’s legacy, and that I made decisions that were thoughtful, and that those decisions were made with the long-term view in mind. I want to make decisions and put policies in place that make it easy for future Executive Directors here to make good decisions. I also would like to have made a turning point financially for Cherokee Ranch & Castle Foundation so that we can fulfill our potential and fully realize Tweet’s dream.”
Holmes’ background is anything but ordinary. A former race car driver, equestrian athlete, and cyclist turned corporate sponsorship developer, who spent 26 years in the mortgage and real estate industry as a serial entrepreneur since 1983. In 1997, He began volunteering for a lot of philanthropic organizations and political candidates and causes. Holmes developed a particular interest in the area of fundraising for public art. In 2001, he helped raise $1 million dollars for the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” monument in Denver’s City Park. He has been on the Denver Art Museum Board of Trustees since 2004.
He’s been involved with dozens of public service organizations, appointed to several boards, recognized as a recipient of the Denver Business Journal’s “40 Under 40 Business Leaders Award,” perhaps most proud to have received the “Juanita Ross Gray Community Service Award” among other honors. “I’ve given a lot of time to the arts and non-profit organizations, so when I look at Cherokee Ranch I see lots of challenges and yet there are many more opportunities. My professional and philanthropic backgrounds are fully in alignment here,” and then added, “timing for this amazing job could not have been more perfect in this time in my life. I love coming here and I would like to be here for the next 20 years of my life.”
On Holmes’ vision… “We are going to make Cherokee Ranch’s cattle operation prominent again,” he said. “Over the last few years, Tweet’s importance to the Cherokee story has become a little diluted; the idea that we are stewards of Tweet’s vision was dwindling and this will also be corrected. One of my primary objectives is to restore Tweet fully, as well as ensure her legacy stands the test of time. Tweet is the reason this place has become a Colorado treasure and a gift for all of us today.”
Cherokee Ranch and Castle is a true marvel and important part of the Rocky Mountain Region. With Holmes in charge, no doubt it’s in great hands and will continue to thrive. Please visit www.cherokeeranch.org for more information.