Meet the young family in Castle Rock's oldest house

The Brauns bought a home, but also a sense of community and history

Julie A. Taylor — Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 10/20/17

Cereal, bananas and pickles. That was the breakfast of choice for the Braun children, who live in the oldest home in Castle Rock, as they recently prepared breakfast in bed for their parents, Brittany and David.

After four years of construction …

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Meet the young family in Castle Rock's oldest house

The Brauns bought a home, but also a sense of community and history

Posted

Cereal, bananas and pickles. That was the breakfast of choice for the Braun children, who live in the oldest home in Castle Rock, as they recently prepared breakfast in bed for their parents, Brittany and David.

After four years of construction at the 142-year-old Dyer House, the Brauns just ticked off the last projects on their list. Instead of upgrades and additions, they focused more on restoring the home at 208 Cantril St. to its original state and making it more sound.

The first owner, Samuel Dyer, is recognized as one of the founders of the state of Colorado. The Brauns were able to get the house and property officially recognized as a National Historic Place last year.

“There was a plan for a while to turn the property into a town park, but the voters turned that down,” David said. “Eventually, Jack and Fleta Nockels, whom we bought the house from, purchased the house from the town and saved it.”

The Brauns bought the property for $275,000 in 2013.

“Fleta was really cool. It was originally listed at $325,000, but we wrote this letter,” David said. “We told her who we were, why we wanted to buy and she felt like it was the right family. She was a huge help in passing the house along.”

Among many of their projects, they converted their attic into a bedroom for 9-year-old Caleb, where he displays geodes and seashells on a shelf.

During that part of the renovation, Caleb found a stack of old letters under his floor. One was a love letter, begging the recipient to "please burn after reading" and to not write back, because her father would find it.

The Brauns converted the 1875 standalone ice house into an office where David takes care of real estate investing. The original window sill is now adorned with 7-year-old Masy's Beanie Babies.

Their homeschool room was possibly the bedroom for the original structure, and later became the parlor after an addition was built onto the back of the house.

Brittany, 32, and David, 34, replaced and restored the floors, removed layers of plaster and painted walls while crews worked on projects like plumbing and electricity.

“We discovered the house has a well inside of it, much to our surprise during a foundation inspection,” David said.

The floated glass windows are original to the house, and the light fixtures in the dining and living rooms are original to when electricity was installed. The tiniest light fixture in the house hangs askew at the entrance to a fairy house carved in the dining room wall, which David built for Masy and 3-year-old Janie.

Across the street, Bruce and Kim Decker live in the 1881 Hammar House. The two couples have met for dinner every second Monday, and also have the bond of renovating simultaneously, borrowing tools and other household goods from each other.

“We've developed a really close friendship with them over the years,” Kim said. “We feel like it’s more than loving our house, we just love our neighborhood.”

While working in the yard one day, David was mistakenly assumed to be the landscaper, and he realized a lot of misinformation was floating around town about the historic neighborhood.

“People routinely think our house is a museum and I even had a lady walk right in the front door one time,” David said. “We were both startled and I defused the potentially awkward moment.”

The Brauns and the Deckers decided to take the trolley tour, and were amused to hear the guide announce that they get a tax break from the town.

“It's also funny that people think the town either owns this property or pays for all of the renovations,” David said.

Brittany referred to her aging neighborhood as "Mayberry," and said everyone worked together, offering a unique skill. However, when she couldn't think of what their contribution to the neighborhood was, David offered that they brought in the "grandkids" because they’re the only family on the block with youngsters.  

They said the decision to buy the old house came naturally. Although it is just under 1,600 square feet, the lot size allows room for play and gardening, and multiple outbuildings extend the space.

“Here, I think we have something meaningful,” said David.

The outbuildings and large yard are one of the most rare qualities about the Dyer House. Over the years, most of the local historic properties were divided and sold off, and the smaller buildings razed.

Erosion due to town development led to a pile of soil building up against the barn, causing the wood to rot. However, the majority of the structure can be salvaged, and the Brauns plan to convert it into a small house for visitors and possibly a bed and breakfast in the future.

The family planted an orchard on the side of the house, and created a plaque, dedicating it to the previous owners, the Knockels, for their role in saving the house.

Back in 1979, Shy Properties bought the house and leased it to different tenants for five years. But when they announced that the town either needed to relocate Dyer House or they would tear it down, the town reacted by purchasing the property with the intention of making it public. Plans for a museum and park were drawn, but voters didn't pass a mill levy tax. That's when the Knockels appeared, and why the Brauns believe they wouldn't have the Dyer House if it were not for them.

“Here, we have a Castle Rock gem,” Brittany said.

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