A UNIQUE AMERICAN CONTEMPORARY SHINGLE STYLE DESIGN

The Owl Mountain Ranch home is based upon the unique creation of “turn of the century (1900)” modern American Shingle Style architecture. Wealthy American’s seeking to separate themselves from the European Gilt Grandeur of places such as Newport, Rhode Island, identified themselves as “rusticators”. They turned to the building of shingle and granite country homes with whimsical terraces and asymmetrical structural elements intended to accommodate a more spontaneous and casual country home lifestyle. These homes sprouted in such places as Bar Harbor, Maine, the Massachusetts coast and the Connecticut countryside.

This whimsical, unstructured, non-colonial building style resulted from a pivotal industrial event in the United States: the advent of iron and steel steam driven ocean going freighters and passenger liners. The wooden boat builders along the East Coast found themselves unemployed exactly at the time, 1875 – 1900, when the untaxed newly wealthy American tycoons were building their summer homes and retreats in more favored seasonal locations such as New England. These were highly skilled and frequently creative individuals who applied themselves to the creation of these often casually designed houses. This was the flowering of a new uniquely American architecture.

Historically this ‘modern shingle style’ design moved to the Western United States through the Adirondack Mountains and lakes of upstate New York. In this area many of the trim elements had tree trunks and tree branches substituted for finished and carved beams and posts; this further reflected the rustic nature of the mountains and lakes in which these second homes were built.

It was no surprise therefore, that after World War I, this same organic wooden casual architecture moved with the recreational flow to Montana and Wyoming. Many hunting and western tourist lodges were served by the new railroads and the housing reflected the availability of native granite, cedar and other timber products. In most cases large tree trunks were substituted for the smaller Adirondack trunks and the large carved beams of New England. This was the home of ranching and mining; log cabin elements were integrated into the new American design vernacular. Owl Mountain does not contain any log elements, but it does reflect the larger spaces and scenic style windows favored by visitors to the great western outdoors of Colorado.

From the design perspective, there is one additional important influence that plays a significant role throughout both the exterior and interior house details of Owl Mountain Ranch: Art Nouveau architecture and design which found it roots in Belgium between 1885 and World War I with many other European cities reflecting similar Art Nouveau influences in furniture and building construction.

The beginning of this modern architecture was clearly influenced by two trends: first the growth of impressionist art and the modern art movement which celebrated original and abstract designs which frequently could be called “organic”. Secondly, the industrial revolution with the enormous impact of iron building structures expressing themselves in large spaces, curvilinear bracing and abstract artistic structural elements. Art Nouveau was more disciplined and more structural than the American Shingle Style buildings; Owl Mountain defers to the Art Nouveau in all its assorted details including ‘pilasters’, columns, geometric surfaces and whimsical architectural features in railings, benches and moldings. The house also features fabric designs by the English Art Nouveau designer William Morris.

Owl Mountain’s exterior materials include Dakota quarried random size cut granite for first levels, and Cedar shake shingles for second levels. The roof is solid copper.

OWL MOUNTAIN RANCH LAYOUT

The winding driveway to the house from the barn cuts through a giant and extraordinary family of Aspen trees. The house is approached with a circular driveway. This has been carefully designed with an approximately 70 foot diameter; this creates 10 parking spaces at its perimeter, allowing passage space between the parked cars and the center grass island.

At the top of the driveway, before the circle, there are two parking areas which accommodate at least 15 cars. Large additional parking surrounds the barn. It might also be noted here that the main drive/roadway to the three lots has a gate at its entrance which is operated electronically and kept closed except during the Buttermilk ski season December into April.

As you approach the house, one sees a “U” shaped structural footprint. Straight ahead is the West facing leg of the four sided ‘U’ containing the 60’ by 29’ great/living room and the 30’ octagonal dining room seating up to 50 (5 round tables of 10) individuals.

Bracketing this long main level space are two dramatic stair towers: the South tower leads to the two bedrooms described below; the North tower leads downward to the ground floor complex of rooms and encompasses the wine cellar with a see-through glass ceiling.

At the South end of the ‘U’ is a large two story wing with the Master Bedroom Suite on the top floor and a similar “Presidential” suite on the main level. The third side, (North side to your right) bottom of the ‘U’, contains a large glass walled gallery fronting the dining room, panty and kitchen.

The fourth side, East end of the ‘U’ behind you, contains the informal family room (next to the kitchen) and four “family bedrooms” on two levels.

The 10,000 square foot main floor described above creates a single level long space of approximately 275 feet: South bedroom leg at 45 feet, West drawing room leg of 80 feet, North dining and kitchen leg of 80 feet, and final East leg with family room and bedrooms of 70 feet. These are approximate numbers.

The top (3rd) level of the house contains the master bedroom and library, which opens to the ski-in/ski-out terrace, outdoor living room, and hot tub.

The ground (1st) level of the house is a similar length to the main level. In consecutive order the spaces include: playroom, 20 seat theatre, massage room, game room, main office, 7th bedroom, 3 car garage, and two bedrooms.

Additional Structures

Perhaps one of the great features of Owl Mountain Ranch is the large metal barn structure (150 X 48 feet) originally built for the use of the Aspen Ski Company. The East end of 2,700 square feet is a heated vehicle maintenance area with lift and power tools. The West space of 4,500 square feet is unheated on the ground floor and contains on its heated mezzanine a 500 square foot gym and a 900 square foot artist studio. The building also contains an employee lounge and two baths.

The property also has a cottage in which the owner resided for three years; it is 2,200 square feet, 3 bedrooms and 3 baths, with a 2 car garage and is occupied by the Ranch Manager and his family.