Hall of fame honors Springs women

The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame will induct 10 women Thursday night, three of them with significant ties to Colorado Springs.

Judge Christine Arguello is the first Hispanic appointed to the federal district court.

The late Elizabeth Wright Ingraham was an architect who promoted environmentally responsible design work.

And the late Julia Archibald Holmes was a women’s rights campaigner and the first recorded woman to climb Pikes Peak, among other accomplishments.

Christine Arguello’s ambitious dreams helped her make it to Harvard Law School and more goals beyond that.

Christine Arguello’s ambitious dreams helped her make it to Harvard Law School and more goals beyond that.

Christine (Martinez) Arguello

Called “your honor” by some and teacher by others, Arguello is a Colorado Springs native who has among her credentials a number of firsts.

Here are a few: first Latina from Colorado admitted to Harvard Law School, first Hispanic in the state to be promoted to partner at one of the state’s “Big Four” law firms (Holland and Hart), first Latina to be granted tenure and promoted to full professor at the University of Kansas School of Law, first Hispanic chief deputy attorney general for Colorado, and first and youngest Latina elected to Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education.

“I’m proud having been a trailblazer for others,” said the 58-year-old. “I wish we could be at a point where we wouldn’t have as many firsts.”

At the age of 13, she decided she wanted to attend Harvard Law because at that time, at the Penrose Library, she saw in a magazine that Harvard had the best law school in the nation.

“I got it into my head, to get into the best law school, you have to be the best student; that it’s not enough to just get As, you had to be the best,” she said.

That philosophy changed at Harvard, where she earned her first C.

“I felt that I was a failure. I felt mediocre. My whole life had been about the grade,” said Arguello.

“My husband made me see the grade was not important — it was the knowledge.”

What she’s most proud of is her ability to balance her career with her family and her community service. She’s been married to Ronald L. Arguello for 40 years, and they have four children. She is part of the Dream Team, a group of mentors who talk with children around the state, encouraging them to further their education and dream big, she said.

When she heard she was being inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, “I cried. Coming from my background where my parents hadn’t graduated high school,” she said. “It was a tremendous honor to be recognized by my peers.”

Elizabeth Ingraham rose high in the male-dominated world of architecture, leaving behind many buildings she designed.

Elizabeth Ingraham rose high in the male-dominated world of architecture, leaving behind many buildings she designed.

Elizabeth Wright Ingraham

A visionary architect who died in Colorado Springs Sept. 15 at age 91, Elizabeth Ingraham was the granddaughter of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

She wasn’t allowed to study under her grandfather, said friend and longtime local arts champion Eve Tilley, so Ingraham chose German-American architect Mies van der Rohe to emulate.

Ingraham moved to Colorado Springs with her husband Gordon in 1948, and she lived here until her death.

“Liz — she was a character,” said Tilley. “She knew who she was and she stuck to it. Not everybody knows who they are.

“She didn’t do things because society said this was how it’s done. I’ve known Liz almost my whole life,” Tilley said.

Known as “Liz” or “Lissa” to her friends, Ingraham and her husband lived across the alley from Tilley’s family when Tilley was growing up.

Ingraham was a visionary modern architect who promoted responsible design by founding the Wright-Ingraham Institute and Running Creek Field Station, a model of outdoor education, according to her nomination.

She also was a pioneer woman architect in a field dominated by men. She designed more than 100 buildings, first as a partner with her husband in Ingraham and Ingraham Architects while raising four children, and later, independently. She designed the Vista Grande Community Church, among many other buildings in Colorado Springs.

While the American Institute of Architects long excluded women, she served as the president of the Colorado chapter and became one of few women AIA Fellows.

“She was a force, a character,” Tilley said. “I’m pleased she’s one of the women who brought me up — from seventh and eighth grade. She influenced who I am and how I think.”

Julia Holmes shocked many when she wore bloomers en route to making history by climbing Pikes Peak — in 1858.

Julia Holmes shocked many when she wore bloomers en route to making history by climbing Pikes Peak — in 1858.

Julia Archibald Holmes

Before the Civil War, Julia Archibald Holmes came to the area that would become Colorado Springs and climbed Pikes Peak wearing bloomers and a short skirt.

That may not sound like a great accomplishment, but the trip took place during a time before there were trails and roads to the summit. The trip took place before women were granted the right to vote, during a time in history when slavery was legal.

Women were all expected to wear the modest frocks of their era, so the fact that Holmes wore bloomers was “very, very significant. She was an advocate for equality of rights, for women and the abolition of slavery,” said Chris Nicholl, a historian with the Pikes Peak Library District. “The bloomers became a symbol of suffrage.

“Women had no property rights, they had limited rights to education and were subservient to men,” she said. “For her to wear pants really challenged the mores of the time,” with Holmes wanting the same rights and responsibilities of men.

Nicholl, who nominated Holmes for the distinction, is particularly interested in women’s history and women’s roles in the history of the region.

A well-educated woman fluent in many languages, Holmes heard about a gold exploration tour setting out for the Pikes Peak region, and she and her husband decided to join. The party included men who became founders of Denver and Trinidad.

“They were intellectuals and they were curious about what was out here,” Nicholl said.

After four days toiling to the top of Pikes Peak, on Aug. 5, 1858, Holmes wrote a letter to her mother, Jane Archibald. In it she said, “as far as I know, I’m the first white woman who’s ever climbed Pikes Peak,” Nicholl said. “It was published in all the papers at the time.”

Holmes and her husband spent some time in the New Mexico territory before moving to the Washington, D.C., area. She died in 1887 at age 48, after having four children.

“Her entire life as an adult was spent advancing human equality, particularly women’s rights,” Nicholl said.

The other women inducted include Helen Ring Robinson, Lauren Casteel, Penny Hamilton, Kristina Johnson, Joanne Maguire, Diana Wall and Morley Cowles Ballantine.