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Inkeepers offer guests a piece of the past

DU alums Jim and Diane Peiker own and operate the Castle Marne bed and breakfast in Denver. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Jim and Diane Peiker own Castle Marne, a bed-and-breakfast inn in an 1889 Denver mansion. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Just as the castles of yore protected their inhabitants from enemies, Castle Marne protects its guests from the hectic, technology-tweaked pace of modern life.

There are no cell phones ringing here, no televisions blaring, no computer cursors blinking, begging you to type what’s on your mind. Instead there is a grandfather clock softly chiming the hours, aging photos and knick-knacks inviting your unhurried perusal, thick walls blocking out the noise of the traffic outside, and a jigsaw puzzle in the sunlit tower, where guests can while away an afternoon matching colors and shapes, no high-speed connection or electrical outlet needed.

“We wanted to take the house back to the way it was and really create a storied experience for folks who come to stay,” says Jim Peiker (BSBA ’57), who bought the dilapidated 1889 building in Denver’s City Park West neighborhood in 1988 and spent five months turning it into a bed-and-breakfast inn.

Peiker and his wife, Diane (Carpenter) (BA ’57), run the nine-room inn with their daughter, Melissa, son-in-law, Louie, and three grandchildren, ages 11, 14 and 15. Jim and Diane live in the carriage house right behind the castle; Melissa, Louie and the grandkids live six blocks away.

“Everybody cooks, everybody cleans, everybody does all of the jobs,” Peiker says. “It’s a three-generation family business.”

It was in another American recession that the Peikers first hatched the dream of owning their own bed and breakfast.

“My daughter and I were both out of work — this was ’87, ’88 — quite literally we were standing in the unemployment line,” Peiker says. “We looked at each other and said, ‘There’s got to be something better than this.’”

They looked into restaurants, bars, copy shops and oil-change centers, but they kept coming back to the bed-and-breakfast concept. And once they discovered Castle Marne, they were hooked. It took six months to pull the financing together and almost as long to renovate the mansion, but the Peikers imbued the house with a Victorian-era charm that keeps visitors coming back.

For Peiker, the real magic of Castle Marne is the community it creates. Strangers around the breakfast table often become friends, he says, and the couple has seen many of the same faces coming back to stay, year after year.

“I joke about the whole concept of six degrees of separation; around here we only have about three,” he says. “It’s fascinating the way that everything fits together.”

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