Although Frank Kistler was born on a North Carolina plantation on March 22, 1882, he lived most of his life on a farm in Van Buren, Arkansas. As a young adult he worked as an oil leaser for Texaco where he learned enough about the business to form his own oil company called PARCO (Producers and Refiners Corporation) in 1917 and also founded a company town of the same name in Wyoming (later renamed Sinclair).PARCO, headquartered in Denver where Frank and his wife Florence lived, proved extremely successful, with an estimated worth of $50 million only six years after its formation.
With his oil business performing well, Frank decided to try his hand at ranching. In 1926, he purchased Highland Ranch (no S) from Waite Phillips, renamed it the Diamond K Ranch, and began breeding operations that specialized in dairy and Angus cattle, sheep, chickens and hogs. The Diamond K Ranch proved to be another successful venture for Frank. He, Florence, and their four children, quickly settled into Denver’s high society scene, rubbing elbows with the influential upper class.
In 1929, the family was the source of much gossip among the city’s aristocracy after Frank filed for divorce from Florence and then remarried a beautiful widow named Leona Antonides two weeks later. Despite this bold move, Frank and his new bride continued to enjoy their prestigious social standing and entertained lavishly at both their Denver home and the Diamond K Ranch.
During the years 1929 and 1930, Frank and Leona, hoping to create a grand impression on their guests, conducted an elaborate remodeling of their Diamond K mansion. They transformed the exterior style from a gothic stone castle to a classic English Tudor, included a sprawling front patio, and added to the western wing. Beautiful interior additions included a breathtaking clock and personalized fireplace facade in the living room. The renovations occurred simultaneously with a troubling period in United States history, the stock market crash of 1929. Frank was among the many that lost millions during this crippling era. He was forced to sell the Diamond K Ranch in 1937 to Lawrence Phipps, Jr. and moved to Glenwood Springs where he bought and operated the Hotel Colorado and adjoining hot springs.