This home’s legacy is in keeping with its patchwork history.
By Lisa Marshall
From the cozy third-floor workshop of Peter and Lynne Troup’s Mapleton Hill home, it’s easy to imagine what life might have been like for its original owner, Emma Louise Clark. Perhaps the widowed dressmaker surrounded herself with fabrics and patterns here, stitching away as she gazed through a circular window on the distant Flatirons and towering silver maples.
More than a century later, the newest lady of the house passes the time in a remarkably similar way.
“I can’t make a dress to save my life, but this I can do,” says Lynne, as she runs her hand across one of the five exquisitely detailed quilts she’s working on. In one corner, 40 others are neatly stacked, waiting to be wrapped for holiday gifts and friends’ baby showers. Bolts of colorful fabric abound next to a design wall where she sketches out ideas. Around the room are quilted pillows and elaborate family scrapbooks in various stages of progress—the product of a creative mind, a steady hand, and the well-earned luxury of time.
“I’m just following in Emma Clark’s footsteps,” smiles Lynne, as she and Peter show a visitor around their historic bed-and-breakfast turned retirement dream home.
If you’d asked the Troups five years ago where they would spend their golden years, they probably would have said the East Coast. They lived in Baltimore for decades, with Peter working as a marketing executive for the cosmetics industry and Lynne raising their two daughters, Anne, now 28, and Hope, 23. “We figured we would be there forever,” Lynne says.
But during a 2009 visit to Colorado with Hope, Lynne paid a visit to Boulder and fell in love. “There was this vitality here, with interesting people at every level,” she recalls. “I went home and said to Peter, ‘What would you think about moving to Boulder?’ Something just drew us here.”
Soon they were walking the historic Mapleton Hill neighborhood in search of a home that matched their respect for history, their eclectic aesthetic, and their wish to be within walking distance of rich culture. They found it in a red brick masterpiece that has served as a Boulder stopover to many during its colorful 114-year history.
Built in the Edwardian Vernacular style of architecture, the home “had all the external charm we loved about the neighborhood, and on the inside it was just pristine,” Lynne says.
According to press reports and historical documents, the home was built in 1899 for Clark, then a 37-year-old woman from Prince Edward Island, Canada. She’d been widowed at 29 and moved to Boulder with her two children, Mildred and Maurice. She used the home as both a headquarters for her dressmaking operation and a boarding house for local schoolteachers, and lived there with her daughter until her death at age 103 in 1965.
Since then, the home has changed hands several times and grown to more than 5,000 square feet as a series of owners tastefully added to the back side, while preserving the home’s signature overhanging eaves, gabled dormers and romantic balconies out front. From the 1990s to 2006 it was run as the Inn on Mapleton Hill (previously known as the Magpie Inn), a seven-room B and B coveted for its balcony views of the Flatirons and its key location a block from Pearl Street.
This home’s legacy is in keeping with its patchwork history.
In July 2006, local developer Orley Paxton, founder of Westminster-based Handyman Hub, purchased it for $1.66 million and pumped another $500,000 into it, tearing out walls to expand the kitchen, turning seven tiny rooms into three large ones, adding an elevator, installing an eight-seat basement movie theater, and building a separate two-car garage in the rear.
“The B and B owners wanted to stick with a period look. We wanted to turn the interior into something that was more appealing to a broader audience,” says Paxton, who worked with the Boulder Historical Society to ensure exterior changes were in keeping with their vision.
Once the Troups bought the house, they hired Boulder-based Outdoor Craftsmen to turn the somewhat dilapidated front yard into an entryway as grand as what it led to. Again, respect for the home’s history was paramount. “We wanted to design something that was very much in keeping with the original intent” for the space, says Outdoor Craftsmen owner Scott Deemer.
To create a sense of privacy from the bustling sidewalk without building a fence—a Historical Society no-no—Deemer used raised beds packed with stunning xeric plants and a boxwood hedge. After tearing out the grass and removing the historic flagstone walkway in order to install a modern sprinkler system, he put it back stone-by-stone precisely the way it was. And when rebuilding the crumbling concrete front porch, he used buff flagstone slabs to match the original windowsills on the main house.
Step onto the new front porch today and a plaque that reads “Built in 1899” greets you. But step through the front door and you feel firmly in the 21st century. Bright, bold art by local artists adorns the walls of the main-floor sitting room that leads to a spacious contemporary kitchen complete with bright-red light fixtures, a shimmering stainless-steel bar and state-of-the art Wolf and Meile appliances. “I was sold as soon as I saw this (kitchen),” says Peter, an avid cook.
A whimsical quilt of the Flatirons hangs in the dining room, one of dozens of Lynne’s works of art that decorate the walls. In Peter’s office hangs another quilt, crafted with bits of bow ties from his former workaday life.
In the basement (where the former caretakers once lived) you’ll find a cozy bar, a surround-sound theater, and a vast bookshelf packed with Lynne’s scrapbook masterpieces. “We are very well-documented,” laughs Peter, as he flips through a thick volume titled “A very romantic and absolutely true story of love and marriage,” starting with the year of their wedding in 1976.
The spacious master bedroom is up the narrow staircase on the second floor (where three B-and-B rooms once stood). It’s decorated wall-to-wall with Lynne’s glorious art, including a vivid-blue creation called “Trip Around the World” that uses traditional quilting techniques; a mauve beauty called “Sunshine in Shadows”; and a historical piece made with Civil War-era fabrics. French doors open onto a sun-soaked balcony where many a visitor has likely sipped their morning coffee over the years.
On the top floor, in Lynne’s workshop, is where the magic happens. “I just love to make functional, beautiful things,” says Lynne, who took up quilting on a trip to London in the 1990s and recently helped found the Boulder Modern Quilt Guild. “I have a lot of time now to devote to it.”
On occasion, their daughters comment that they feel a presence in the house, as if Emma’s spirit still lingers. And previous guests sometimes call to see if there is room at their favorite inn.
But to the Troups, the famous inn on Mapleton Hill is simply Home Sweet Home.
“We absolutely love it here,” Lynne says.