When you participate in a program at Philmont Scout Ranch, whether a 12 day trek or a training session, you should try to schedule a tour of the summer home of Waite Phillips, known as the Villa Philmonte. The home now serves as the anchor of the Philmont Training Center (PTC) and is only a short walk from the Philmont Base Camp. Tours are scheduled through the Seton Museum and Library.
I first toured the Villa way back in 1984 when I attended scoutmaster training at PTC. I was, and still am, employed as a draftsman at a local lumber yard so I really appreciated the design and details of the home. Whenever I returned to Philmont to partake in treks with Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 though the 1980’s and 1990’s I tried to find time for the Scouts to tour the Villa.
It has been ten years between visits to the ranch. I returned to Philmont for a week in June for an advancement training course at PTC. I went on the trip with Bob, our district executive, who also took the same course. We decided early in the week that we would take a tour of the Villa once again. We scheduled a visit for Tuesday afternoon, the last tour for the day.
I was hoping to see a few items within the home that I had seen back in the 1980’s. Would the carved wooden chest still be located in the living room? Would the model ship still be on display? Would the old piano still be playable after all these years? Are all the animal trophies still to be found in Waite Phillips hunting room? Would the portrait of Waite Phillips still be located in the closet of the lower level? The answer to all of the question was “Yes.”
There was much more to see on this tour than the previous ones I had taken. I believe more of the Villa is open to the tour now then 15 or 20 years ago. It may be that the Philmont staff may have been using these rooms for other purposes during the 80’s and 90’s.
Bob and I were the only two people during our scheduled time for the tour. Our guide did an excellent job. This year we were able to view the three bedrooms of the Phillips children, each of which was triple the size of my bedroom at home. The old cars in the garage were also fun to look at.
My favorite part of the tour was the gun room, located off the hunting trophy room. I do not recall ever seeing this room on any earlier tours. We could not go inside the gun room but we were allowed to look through the barred window in the door. It was awesome seeing the old rustic cabinetry and the various rifles and muskets that were stored in there. I did put my camera through the door window bars and got a couple nice shots of the room.
Fact is, I took a lot of photos during the tour. One hundred and two of them. Back on previous tours I used a film camera and was doing well to get a dozen or so pictures of the tour. Isn’t digital photography wonderful?
The last stop of the tour was a large room which I had never seen before. It was set up as a small museum of Philmont history, almost like an extension of the Seton Museum. You had to enter the room through the exterior courtyard where the swimming pool used to be. It is a definite “must stop” of the tour. There is a lot of information in there.
I will be placing many of the pictures of the tour online in an album on my Flickr account. You can see the album at:
Have you toured the Villa Philmonte at Philmont Scout Ranch? What did you think of it? What were your favorite parts of the tour?