OUR NAMESAKE - ALICE BEMIS TAYLOR, PHILANTHROPIST
October 15, 1877 – June 22, 1942
Alice Bemis Taylor was the lead female founder and benefactor of cultural and social institutions in early Colorado Springs. She endowed and directed the construction of the Colorado Springs Day Nursery (still operating today as Child Nursery Centers) and Fine Arts Center (FAC). As the first woman trustee of prestigious Colorado College, she provided it sustaining endowments. She directly influenced significant architecture and preserved rare artifacts from underrepresented peoples. She also financed social welfare organizations, scholarships, and aid to individuals.
Taylor’s father, Judson Bemis, became a philanthropist thanks to his Bemis Brothers Bag Company’s success. The family came to Colorado Springs when Alice was four, to improve her mother’s health. Taylor was one of the founders of the Colorado Springs Day Nursery Association and honored her late mother, Alice Cogswell Bemis, by building the nursery, a magnificent structure. Later, Taylor also honored her late husband, stockbroker Frederick Morgan Taylor, by donating the most elaborate pipe organ west of the Mississippi to Grace Episcopal Church.
Taylor’s buildings achieved National Register status. She brought premier southwestern architect John Gaw Meem to local architecture. Taylor commissioned him to design the FAC to make public her collections of Indian crafts and Hispanic santos (carved images of saints) at the Taylor Museum for Southwestern Studies. She also had Meem design the Taylor Memorial Chapel at La Foret, her Black Forest retreat, which is now a nondenominational conference center. Her foundation helped finance acquisition of the city’s Rockledge Ranch Living History Site.
Taylor was an inspiring role model and provider of opportunities. The nursery’s master builder—with whom Taylor worked on site—said this “brilliant woman” insisted the building be inspirational for the children of working, tubercular mothers. She endowed the maternity ward for Glockner (now Penrose) Hospital. She created the model Bemis-Taylor Foundation ten years before her friends created the El Pomar Foundation. Hers exceeded all donations to the Community Chest (now United Way), and she founded the Bemis-Taylor Child Guidance Clinic (now Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group). Her endowments for Colorado College still garner almost $1 million annually. Alice Bemis Taylor is the woman most recognized for leaving her mark on Colorado Springs.