The History Behind Castle Marne

Our gorgeous mansion sits at the corner of 16th and Race in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The rusticated lava stone looks the same as it did in 1889, amidst the most significant construction boom in Denver’s history.

Architect William Lang was responsible for the construction of this and many other famous homes in the Mile High City and viewed as the most eclectic architect of the time. He designed over 300 homes in Denver, including the Molly Brown House, but fewer than 100 still stand today. The Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style highlights the castle with slight Queen Anne overtones. Financially ruined by the Silver Panic of 1893, the illustrious architect tragically died a penniless pauper in 1897.

What Makes Castle Marne So Unique?

The Buildingrusticated Castle Marne exterior

The exterior construction is rusticated native lava stone, known as Castle Rock Rhyolite quarried in Castle Rock, Colorado. Composed mainly of quartz, mica, and feldspar, it sparkles and glitters. The entry foyer woodwork and parlor fireplace mantle are also noteworthy, in addition to the unique first-floor ceilings and frieze.

Notice the carved details around the door and window. This photo shows “Rustication,” an architectural term for a type of decorative masonry where the edge of the stone is cut back to a plane surface, leaving the central portion of the front rough or Green Man Castle Marne styleprojecting. It provides a rich and bold surface for exterior masonry walls.

The Inside of Castle Marne contains incredibly elaborate detail. This Green Man found in the hand-carved fireplace mantle in the Castle’s Victorian Parlor. It features a design commonly associated with a renaissance or a cycle of rebirth, something that Castle Marne went through in the late 1980s.

The Window

The Peacock Window is a true work of art. Designed for the house in 1889 by Denver artist M. Watkins, it is a stunning example of the Impressionist Movement in stained glass. The window is six feet in diameter and represents a Peacock with his feathers fully extended. Can you see him?

Old Owners and New Beginnings

Wilbur S. Raymond

Wilbur S. Raymond commissioned the building for $40,000 on land valued at $15,000. It was the “show home” for his Wyman Addition real estate development. Raymond and his Castle Marne butterfly collectionfamily lived in the house for less than a year and lost it to creditors in 1891.

Colonel James H. Platt

Colonel James H. Platt, president of Denver Paper Mills Company, purchased the mansion in 1892. Colonel Platt served with distinction in the Civil War, as the U.S. Representative from Virginia for four terms, and in President Ulysses S. Grant’s cabinet. While in Washington, along with Jerome Chaffee, Barney Ford, and others, he worked tirelessly for Colorado’s statehood. In the late 1870s, he moved to New York City, where he did business with John D. Rockefeller before selling out in 1887, and moving to Denver. In 1890, he began to build one of the finest paper mills in the world, along the South Platte River near the present Ruby Hill Park. After he died on a fishing trip in 1894, his widow sold Castle Marne the same year to John Mason.

John T. Mason

The third owner of the Marne was John T. Mason. Born in Lincolnshire, England, he lived in Houston, Texas before moving to Denver. Selling his business in the 1880s, he became a world-renowned lepidopterist (moth and butterfly collector), and a founder and first curator of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Mason displayed many of his world-famous collection of over 400,000 butterflies and moths in the Ballroom on the third floor of the Marne. We are lucky to have a small part of his collection today in the Butterfly Parlor on the third floor and the John T. Mason Suite.

Adele Van Cise

Once Denver’s finest residential neighborhood, times began to change in the Capitol Hill district. The wealthy and influential citizens started moving to newer communities. It settled into a mixed-use, residential, multi-family, commercial use area that we still see today. Many mansions were torn down while others became rooming houses and apartments. In 1918, Mrs. Adele (Edwin) Van Cise purchased the Marne. She converted the house into an 8-room apartment and lived here until her death in 1937. The Carrara marble plant that stands in the Foyer was a wedding present to Adele. Mrs. Van Cise and her son, Philip, named the mansion “The Marne.”

Lyle A. Holland

Lyle A. Holland bought the Marne in 1938 and lived here until his death in 1972. Holland was associated with Gus’s Wholesale Bakery and subsequently conducted his real estateCastle Marne flowers business from the building. After Holland’s death, there were many futile attempts by speculators to develop the property.

Louise and Richard Dice

The Marne became known by all as the “big empty stone house with the beautiful window.” Louise and Richard Dice had a vision; they took possession of the house in 1974, in an unsuccessful attempt at converting the building into a mixed-use development. Their vision fell victim to a sagging economy and real estate depression. From 1979 through 1982, the building served as a processing center for parolees from state penal institutions.

The Marne stood unoccupied and neglected until 1988. The owners of the vacant building turned off the gas to save money but neglected to turn off the water, resulting in serious damages. Vagrants got into the building, stole virtually everything that wasn’t nailed down and severely vandalized the building.

The Peiker Family

The Peiker family purchased the derelict structure in 1988. One year later after an extensive restoration and renovation, the Castle Marne Bed and Breakfast opened its doors for business on the 100th anniversary of the construction of the house. Each year, we celebrate these two anniversaries on the first of August with a neighborhood party.

Stay in a Piece of Denver History!

Castle Marne provides you with a unique and convenient stay in the heart of the Capitol Hill District! You can easily walk to some of the top attractions in the Mile High City! After you explore the area, you can come back and relax in one of our comfortable rooms! We even have a selection of Jacuzzi suites with private tubs.

If you’re looking for a memorable place to enjoy your Denver getaway, look no further than Castle Marne! We hope you visit us soon!

Van Cise Room

John Mason Room

Lang Room