Crested Butte, Colorado

Picture a grand home in the mountains and what comes to mind? Oversized a-frames, brooding chalets, immense, multi-story “log cabins.” Pam and Jerry Hassebroek set out to break that mold when they conceived “Hassford Gulch,” their gracious English Manor House set on 2.2 acres in the Upper Gunnison Valley area near Crested Butte, Colorado.

“We wanted to build a house that suited our tastes, not just another mountain house. People tell us that Hassford Gulch gives the appearance of having been here for a hundred years.” The home’s imposing design with its soaring windows and limestone walls certainly confirms that impression.

A Mountain Setting, An English Inspiration

The Hassebroeks and their two children had skied in Crested Butte and owned a condo there since 1982. But when Jerry retired from corporate life in August 2000, he says he was ready to think about the next big phase in his life. While Pam stayed in their hometown of Atlanta taking classes toward her Ph.D., Jerry drove to Crested Butte, “completely unsupervised,” he jokes. “I’ve always been a frustrated architect. I even own a drawing table.” Not surprisingly then, his “next phase” began around Thanksgiving with their purchase of a prime property, situated with breathtaking views, bordered by National Forest land, a glacial moraine berm, the Club at Crested Butte Golf Course, and generous amount of natural wild vegetation between their land and the adjacent lot.

Inspired by the 19th century manor house of the 2001 Academy Award-winning movie Gosford Park, the couple set about recreating its elegance in a mountain setting. “We’ve traveled to England a half-dozen times and love all things English,” says Jerry. Gosford Park became their reference point. “It lent itself to the architectural concepts that interested us most,” Jerry says. Actually, the story of Hassford Gulch is as much about the many antique furnishings, acquired carefully and serendipitously, that went hand-in-hand with the construction of the house.

Antiques Set The Style

The main floor of the home, where Pam and Jerry spend most of their time, houses their favorite antiques. A beautiful antique carved oak mantel with a mansard top—a spontaneous purchase—became the focal point of the living room. “As the home was being designed, we were in the market for a living room mantel, but had no idea what we were looking for,” says Pam. “In the process of a live auction, I walked over to look at an interesting mantel, gave Jerry an ‘it might work’ look, and two minutes later, Jerry had entered the winning bid. It became the anchor piece that defined the wood species, stain color, and trim profile for the interior rooms of the house. Sometimes you just get lucky.”

Although this particular mantel was bought on a whim, the Hassebroeks usually had arrived at auctions completely prepared. After all, Pam is an engineer, and Jerry, a systems analyst. Armed with spread sheets of preferred items previewed beforehand, all with target prices, they’d bid within their budget—except for the gorgeous carved walnut, glass-front buffet cabinet in the living room. They had been outbid on it, but a week later the winning bidders defaulted, and the auction house offered it to Pam and Jerry at the higher price. They jumped at the chance. Using its large measurements as a guide for calculating the ceiling height during the design of the second level, the buffet piece’s top medallion now nestles precisely under the ceiling beam. It also provides a lovely balance to the mansard fireplace mantel (one of five in the house) across from it.

“As we shopped for furnishings, to make sure what we were purchasing would work at Hassford Gulch, we carried a 3-ring binder with us filled with photographs of the various rooms. Along with photos, we recorded dimensions of spaces, and a list of items to be on the watch for.”

Their pre-planning and organization has paid off beautifully. For example, prized auction finds fill the library and Jerry’s office. The Library has an expansive oak and leather-topped English library table with six drawers (circa 1840); a dark oak bookcase with wild game carvings, probably German, and an oak server with barley-twist legs that echoes the twisting frame of the bookcase; an oak gothic-style fireplace mantel with simulated coals that glow red hot; and two walnut chairs from Italy with carved lion’s-head arms and mauve fabric upholstery. In Jerry’s office, an antique walnut glass-front bookcase acquired during construction required the architects to redesign and expand the ceiling height into attic space above to accommodate it. Antique carved ram’s heads adorn the arms of leather side chairs; a French leather-topped cherry desk and walnut swivel chair once used by Pam’s father fill the office with warmth and character.

A personal expression of Pam and Jerry’s tastes, their antiques exhibit eclecticism. Three antique Indian cooking pots were configured into a wash basin and bar sinks. A Chinese elm table was converted to a wash stand in the main powder room. In the Master Suite, a new chandelier from North Carolina was glazed to match wall sconces discovered in a Vermont antique store. Leading into the Master Sitting Room, teak doors with iron spikes and original painting from a Portuguese building constructed during the colonial occupation of India are most impressive. Also in the Master Suite are a small antique writing desk purchased early in their marriage, and a reconfigured rosewood bathroom vanity originally acquired to furnish their home while living in Taiwan. Throughout their Crested Butte home hang several oil paintings by their favorite contemporary English artist, Charles Neal. His pastoral landscapes remind Pam of the dairy farm where she grew up, and of their many trips to England—”especially the Cotswolds,” she says.

A Kitchen Fit For A CDO

Upon retirement, Jerry adopted a new title for himself: CDO, or Chief Domestic Officer. “I’ve always been interested in cooking, so while Pam was hard at work on her Ph.D., I took over kitchen duties,” he says. They equipped the kitchen with the best appliance and configuration to turn out delicious meals, whether for the two of them or for the fundraiser dinners they enjoy hosting for Crested Butte charities. A Wolf six-burner gas range-top with infrared grill, two Thermador conventional/convection ovens, Sub-Zero side-by-side refrigerator/freezer, a Kohler pasta/steam cook center, two food warming drawers and two ASKO dishwashers (a must for cleaning after large dinner parties) equip the kitchen for a gourmet chef. Their grill on the deck off the kitchen makes summer grill-outs a treat.

Rooms Worthy Of Naming

Christening the home and all of it spaces with names personalized the project during its design phase. “We had a lot of fun coming up with names rather than just going with the architect’s conventional Bedroom 1, 2, 3,” says Jerry. Coupling their last name with the Gosford Park movie title and adding a common Colorado term, the home’s name emerged—Hassford Gulch. Naming rooms was “part of the fun,” claims Jerry. Rooms were christened based on antiques, family history, historical fact, or plain whimsy.

A walk down the Franklin Gallery in the lower level bears this out. Influenced heavily by the “below-stairs” rooms where the servants toiled in Gosford Park, this center hallway with its unique, chevron-patterned barnwood plank and antique-oak beamed ceiling, is flanked by a series of rooms. The Franklin Gallery acquired its name from the eight exquisite leaded glass windows inset in the doorways that lead to these rooms. Purchased at auction, each of the windows was harvested from a 1920’s Philadelphia pub, and each has a center medallion depicting an aspect of Ben Franklin’s life.

Off the Franklin Gallery are six rooms of various functions. The BearKat Parlour is a sitting room named after the Hassebroek’s two children; the Julius A. Cox Buffalo Bar honors Jerry’s great grandfather, who participated in 1870’s buffalo hunts around Dodge City. A highlight of the Buffalo Bar is the bar itself, purchased at auction. “The bar was imported from England, and was formerly installed in a London pub. The antique stained glass, lower front dark oak panel, and trim pieces above the sink are original, while new oak paneling restored other parts of the bar. Our local carpenters assembled it on site and trimmed it to fit the space,” explains Jerry.

Also connected to the Franklin Gallery is the Texas Theater media room with its Stuart 110-inch screen, so-named as a nod to Pam’s home state. The Oh-Be-Joyful Suite and Fantasy Ranch Bunk Room (named for an old mine and a horse riding ranch near Crested Butte) were designed with the Hassebroeks’ nephew, their grandchildren, and the children’s parents in mind. The Traveler’s Suite is also part of the below-stairs rooms. At the Atlanta History Center, the couple learned about a “traveler’s room,” a turn-of-the-century practice of attaching a simple sleeping room for travelers, accessible from the front porch of a house, but not from the interior. Hence, the Traveler’s Suite at Hassford Gulch has its own outside entrance and an interior door to the Franklin Gallery is lockable from the rest of the house. It’s ideal for a variety of visitors, a household manager, or housekeeper. The suite includes a spacious bedroom, full bath, and a complete kitchen.

Craftsmanship Throughout

After Jerry drew up his own set of house plans in early 2001, the basis for Hassford Gulch was in place. The Hassebroeks chose Spitzmiller and Norris (S&N) of Atlanta as architects. Jerry and Pam say they trusted their own instincts as the plans came into focus, and had utmost confidence in S&N ever since they renovated the Hassebroeks’ Atlanta home during in the mid-’90s. “S&N shared common objectives, like attention to detail, continuity of architectural theme, and a desire for comfortable elegance using muted color schemes,” Jerry says. “Integrating inner spaces with the outdoors through use of windows, doors, and decks was another priority. We wanted to show off the vastness our wonderful valley provides. It’s important to have a good working relationship with an excellent architect you trust.”

When General Contractor Peter O’Rourke told Jerry in an interview that he liked projects with lots of unique challenges, Jerry knew he’d found the right group. O’Rourke Construction of Crested Butte broke ground for Hassford Gulch in April 2002. Three years later, in summer 2005, the family moved in. The construction took place on “Crested Butte time,” as Jerry explains. In deep winter, construction work slows. “We had to work around the craftsmen’s lifestyles, with time off for skiing and other pursuits. It’s more laid back here, which is one reason folks come to work in Crested Butte.”

Plenty of craftsmen had a hand in Hassford Gulch’s creation. Lead carpenter Matt Thompson of Thompson Construction was the master touch behind the framing, detailed beam, trim, and paneling wood work. The Hassebroeks hired local artist and blacksmith, John Murphy, to create several dozen chandeliers, sconces, handrails, brackets, curtain rods, and more, because, Jerry says, to achieve an authentic old English feel, they wanted extensive use of black wrought iron.

Christmas In Crested Butte

With the explosion of fall colors on the aspen trees now past in Crested Butte, the Hassebroeks find themselves preparing for family Christmas at Hassford Gulch. While their home glows inside and out with holiday decorations from Frontgate, they reflect on what made its construction such a happy experience. “Fortunately, I was retired and intimately focused on the design and construction. I was able to stay on top of things on a daily basis, able to make that time commitment,” admits Jerry. Pam adds, “We had patience. We didn’t rush the craftspeople who spent so much time creating beautiful things for us.”

Even though Pam and Jerry love to golf together, Jerry laughs that one of the reasons they’re inseparable after 37 years of marriage is because they don’t offer golf instructions to the other unless asked. It’s apparent, however, that the success of their collaboration on Hassford Gulch can be attributed to other interests they share—both are passionate Anglophiles, both have a strong commitment to their heritage and family, and both take pride in their own good taste and the timeless elegance of antiques they’ve selected with care and love.

Home Highlights

HOME SITE: 2.2 acres in Crested Butte, CO

STYLE: English Manor

LIVING SPACE: 7,864 sq. ft. including three gathering rooms (living room, pub, parlour), dining room, library, five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, home theatre, wine cellar, exercise room, heated decks, five fireplaces

UNIQUE FEATURES: A three-floor luggage lift; reclaimed-oak beamed ceiling; authentic English pub bar

HIS FAVORITE ROOM: “…the kitchen, where I’ve become the Chief Domestic Officer.”

HER FAVORITE ROOM: “…the rooms with incredible views: the living room, my office, the Texas Theatre.”

ARCHITECTS: Spitzmiller & Norris— Atlanta, GA

KITCHEN: McFarlane Design— Atlanta, GA

CONTRACTOR: O’Rourke Construction—Crested Butte, CO

CARPENTRY: Thompson Construction—Crested Butte, CO

DRAPERIES: Amanda Breazeale Interiors— Knoxville, TN