Frank E. Kistler

Highlands Ranch Mansion Owner:   Frank E. Kistler



Frank was born in 1882 and as a young adult he worked as an oil leaser for Texaco.  By 1917 he had learned enough about the business to form his own oil company called PARCO (Producers and Refiners Corporation).  It was later renamed SINCLAIR.  His oil business was headquartered in Denver where he and his wife Florence and 4 children lived. 

With his oil business performing well, Frank decided to try his hand at ranching.  In 1926, he purchased Highland (no "s") Ranch from Waite Phillips.  He renamed his ranch the DIAMOND K RANCH and began breeding operations that specialized in dairy and Angus cattle, sheep, chickens, and hogs.  The ranch proved to be another successful venture for Frank.

In 1929, after a quick divorce from Florence, Frank married a beautiful widow named Leana Antonines.  During the next 2 years, they conducted an elaborate remodeling of their Diamond K mansion.  The exterior was transformed from a gothic stone castle to a classic English Tudor, including a sprawling front patio, and a grand new entrance.  The interior was completely transformed with new hardwood floors, a breathtaking spiral staircase and lovely wooden cathedral doorways throughout. 

The living room was decorated with an enormous grandfather clock with cherubs carved on the case and an Italian saying at the base meaning “Time passes and man perceives it not” taken from Dante’s writings in the 1300s.  Also a beautiful fireplace was added with the carved dates of 1929 and 1930 and carvings of the mansion and mountain scenes.


The renovations occurred simultaneously with the Stock Market Crash in 1929, and Frank was among the many that lost millions during that crippling era.  In 1937, with those loses and the many lawsuits that were pending against him, he was forced to sell his beloved Diamond K Ranch to Lawrence Phipps, Jr.

Frank and Leana headed west to Glenwood Springs, Colorado and in 1938 he bought and operated the Hotel Colorado and the adjoining hot springs. In 1943 he was able to secure a lease with the Navy and the hotel was transformed into a Naval hospital.  The lease included the springs, vapor caves and the 160 acre polo grounds.

After the war, in 1946, Frank sold the hotel and in 1953 he sold the vapor caves.

Frank passed away in 1960 and he and Leana are buried in a family plot at the Rosebud Cemetery in Glenwood Springs.


SANDY CHAMBERLIN,  Highlands Ranch Historical Society and HR Mansion Docent  NOVEMBER 2020