A Rustic Colorado Ranch, Reborn
A lakeside lodge pays tribute to its historic setting
If land could talk, this place would have quite a tale to tell. Surrounded by spectacular San Juan Mountains scenery near Pagosa Springs, Colorado, the enchanted property was first settled by the legendary Western outlaw Henry Born (also known as “Dutch Henry”) in 1898. While he gained renown for his prolific horse thievery, it seems Born also had a keen eye for real estate. When his escapades finally came to an end, he chose this peaceful paradise as the spot where he and his wife would settle down and raise four children.
And what a setting: 155 secluded acres surrounded by San Juan National Forest, featuring a private 18-acre glacial lake that flows into the west fork of the San Juan River. Waterfalls cascade from the snowy mountain peaks, and wildlife is abundant.
“It was kind of a local secret,” says Mike Moore, Pagosa Springs-based builder and founder of Moore & Co. He happened to be familiar with the Born Lake property, and when it came on the market, he knew exactly who he needed to tell: Mark and Phyllis Young.
The Youngs live in Texas most of the year but are especially fond of this wild and beautiful region of southwest Colorado. Mike Moore had already built two homes in the area for the couple, and this idyllic new property truly captured their imaginations. “Born Lake Ranch offered both private lake and river ownership, as well as national forest access from all sides,” Mark Young explains. “Eagles and osprey inhabit the pine and fir trees around the lake and can be seen diving into the lake for dinner,” he says. “Moose, elk and deer pass through the property frequently.”
How to build a home deserving of such a majestic setting? Hire the right design and construction team. Luckily, they were right nearby. The Youngs asked Mike Moore and local architect Courtney King, of Courtney King Studios, to build a rustic mountain home at Born Lake. Their inspiration? America’s stately national park lodges.
Their new log ranch home blends time-honored building techniques with up-to-date amenities and comfort. In appreciation of the hand-hewn antique cabins on-site, crafted with a broad axe and adze, Moore decided to utilize an old style of wooden construction called piece-en-piece. “Piece-en-piece eliminates settling issues that a normal log home would have as logs compress and move in different climates,” he explains. “It’s basically a timber-frame structure with intermittent posts and log infill between those posts.” Moore built the home from hand-hewn Colorado spruce, with the help of local artisans, including San Juan Timberwrights and Integrity Ironworks.
King’s design for the 4,770-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-and- one-half-bath home emphasizes an open, family-inspired layout. The main master suite is on the ground level, with two additional master suites upstairs for the Youngs’ grown children, plus two adjacent bunk-filled lofts to accommodate six grandkids.
The grand porte-cochere entry creates a dazzling arrival experience. “When you pull up, we have these big doors, and through the doors you can see all the way out through the back to the lake,” Phyllis Young explains. “It’s always spectacular.”
“The house almost tells you what it wants as you’re going.” — Builder Mike Moore
The heart of the home is a soaring central room modeled after the national park lodges the Youngs admire. “We always loved the large great room fireplaces with massive mantels and the catwalk above,” Mark Young says. Courtney King agrees. “The great room’s catwalk, integrated into the trusses, brings all the rooms together in a hospitable lodge feeling,” she says.
A towering two-sided fireplace, created from stone gathered around the property, divides the great room from the kitchen. The Youngs wanted a bright kitchen, but that was a challenge.
“After the rough framing, the kitchen felt too dark, which really bothered me,” King explains. She ended up adding an interior window behind the range that allows light to filter in from an adjacent stairwell. The custom cabinets were built by King’s husband, Mike Musgrove, who also made the home’s paneling and doors.
Phyllis Young is an avid antique hunter and quilt collector who loves the color red, and many of the home’s spaces are adorned with her treasures. Inspired by photos she’d seen of an old Belgian farmhouse, with a rustic kitchen island sitting atop a weathered gray slate floor, she had the builder design and construct a similar island with large slate tiles for both the kitchen and entry floors.
King designed a variety of porches, decks and balconies for the ranch, since the Youngs and their visiting family and friends spend so much time outdoors. “We want them to relax and enjoy the views, the lake, river and waterfalls,” Phyllis Young says. “We don’t want to worry about anything except enjoying God’s creation.”
And what would old “Dutch Henry” Born think if he could see the brand-new lodge standing beside the lake that bears his name? “I would hope it would put a smile on his face,” Moore says with a laugh.