An old homestead rests in the backcountry of Highlands Ranch. Rhyolite rocks line its base. Its rich wood is cracked and split, its windows gone. Its skeleton has been worn down over the years.
But the decaying home means a lot to Norma Grigs, 87, who spent a recent afternoon walking around her late husband’s family property.
“The last time I was here,” says Grigs, “a bee stung Bill right on the forehead and he went into shock. I had to drag him back to the car.”
Bill Grigs, her husband, passed away four years ago. His father, Edgar, grew up on the homestead, which was part of the Grigs dairy farm that spanned more than 1,000 acres in what is now part of Highlands Ranch’s backcountry. The backcountry is 8,200 acres of open space that runs along Grigs and McArthur Ranch roads.
Grigs and her daughter, Jeannine Colley, were invited to see the homestead by Jamie Noebel, director of community relations and events for Highlands Ranch Community Association, and Nancy Lisenbigler, director of the Highlands Ranch Historical Society.
HRCA trail guide Carla Baca drove the group through the backcountry terrain, where they spotted wildlife of all kinds — coyotes, rabbits, a herd of elk.
“I’m just thrilled we could get in touch with you,” Noebel says to Grigs and her daughter.
At the homestead, Grigs cherishes every moment — taking her her time, peering in each window as if she were visualizing what was once in the home.
The style of the house shows the family’s wealth — the wallpaper, leftover kitchen plumbing and the number of square-head nails that were hand-forged.
The chimney is unusually short, resting just above the roof.
“That would never meet code,” Grigs says, jokingly.
After a touring the home, she explores what’s left of the nearby barn and stables.
“Now,” Grigs asks, “where is the silo?”
A few moments later, she spots the remnants, a circular shape of bricks on the ground. Most of the structure is gone. Bill took her to the silo 30 years ago, she recalls, because that’s where “the kids” would throw parties.
Although not much looks the way Grigs remembers the homestead, each nail, slab of wood and block of clay seems to piece together like a puzzle of good memories.
“Gee,” she says, “it’s fun to come back.”
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