A History of the Abbey of the Holy Cross
The Abbey of the Holy Cross started in 1886 when two Benedictine monks left Latrobe, Pennsylvania to establish a monastic community in Colorado. Joseph Projectus Machebeuf, a member of the American Roman Catholic missionary and the first bishop of Denver, invited them as the Vicar Apostolic for Colorado and Utah. After originally settling in Boulder in 1886 with the Priory of St. Mary, other monks from various territories started to arrive.
In 1924, the community outgrew the original settlement, forcing the monks to move to Canon City. The Roman Catholic Church, through an intermediary, purchased the Fruitmere Orchards, over 90 acres of undeveloped land. Upon the completion of a larger Gothic Revival style monastery and a couple of other minor buildings, the land parcel was granted the title of abbey.
The abbey, originally named Holy Cross, was completed in 1925, but ended up costing roughly three times the original estimate of $200,000. Other Benedictine abbeys across the country ended up absorbing the additional $400,000.
The Abbey served three primary functions throughout the years, all overseen by the monks. The boys school, created by the first abbot Father Cyprian Bradley, prepared children for high school. The Holy Cross College and Seminary helped students decide whether God called them to serve as part of His Church through priesthood or brotherhood. Camp Holy Cross provided boys ages 8 to 14 a community in which to grow and develop their faith.
After prospering in the 1950s and 1960s, the boys school, Holy Cross College and Seminary, and Camp Holy Cross closed in 1985. The community grew from 35 students in 1928 to 250 students in 1972, but enrollment quickly declined in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This untimely collapse caused the abbey to abandon plans for a grand cathedral, electrical plant, football stadium, and other buildings. Approximately 20 elderly monks continued to live in the abbey until it eventually closed entirely in 2005. In 2007, it sold.
The elderly monks allowed the property to be developed by a professional viticulturist for wine production, and the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey remains open to this day. Each year, annual events such as the Harvest Festival, Winemakers Dinner, Farm-to-Table Fun Run and Dinner, Palette to Palate, and Spring Wine Extravaganza are held, spreading cheer to all those in attendance.
Every Halloween, the Boy Scouts organize a haunted house event in the basement for cheap thrills and laughs, but with a graveyard on site, perhaps not all the spine-tingling frights come from actors dressed up in costumes.