Nagle Warren and Spirit West Bed and Breakfasts
The distinctive turret of the Victorian-era Nagle Warren Mansion at the corner of House Ave. and 17th Street in downtown Cheyenne, Wyo., is hard to miss. It has been poking into the high plains skyline since 1888.
You may not have stayed there before, but I recommend that you do anytime you are in Cheyenne. But truth is even if you haven’t been there, when you do first visit the Nagle Warren Mansion Bed and Breakfast, you may feel as if it is very familiar. The Mansion was used as a setting for several scenes in the recent History Channel documentary series “Cowboys and Outlaws.”
Inside the wide hallway with its original parquet wood floor and ceiling coverings, you find the sitting room with its baby grand piano and two chairs before an antique fireplace and on through double doors the mansion’s library. To the left is the parlor and beyond it the dining room.
There’s no question about it, this is a mansion, and it is lovely, from the Victorian settee and chairs to the heavy buffet and the two stunning paintings that give the parlor focus and take you to the past. The art is by Carl Eidsel, a German who painted in the style of Albert Bierstadt; the paintings are two of the original furnishings in the house built as the home for Erasmus and Emma Nagle.
Nagle came to Cheyenne in 1868 shortly after it sprang up as an end-of-the-tracks town on the Union Pacific Railroad. He was a grocer, who had operated in Colorado’s gold fields. After gold discoveries in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Cheyenne became one of the main jumping off points as miners headed up the Cheyenne-Deadwood Trail. Part of the route to the Black Hills was over toll roads Nagle owned. He hauled liquor to the Hills over his roads, charging for the tolls and the goods. All that made him a wealthy man, though he died shortly after construction of his mansion.
The widowed Mrs. Nagle had prosperous businesses and several million dollars in the bank, but she partied hard, spent the money and in 1910 sold the house to Francis E. Warren, cattleman, Wyoming’s first Governor, and later a U.S. Senator. Thus it became the Nagle Warren Mansion.
Sen. Warren was a widower in Washington when he met Clara Le Baron, whom he subsequently married. They lived together in the Cheyenne mansion until his death in 1929. Then Clara departed from Cheyenne permanently, selling the house that had cost $50,000 to build in 1888 to the YWCA in 1933 for $5,000.
In the days of both Nagle and Warren, a large stone building behind the mansion served as the carriage house and a place to stable horses. Now it has been completely renovated with six rooms to compliment the six guest rooms in the mansion itself; the two buildings are connected by an enclosed walk. Each room has a unique shape, many have gas fireplaces, all have antique furnishings.
Newer, but equally inviting is Spirit West River Lodge just outside Riverside, Wyo., a Western lodge that began as the home of R.G. Finney and their sons, Sean and Ryan, but which they converted to a bed and breakfast several years ago.
Situated beside the Encampment River, their rambling ranch-style home particularly reflects Lynn’s historic connections to the area. Her great-uncle Gee-String Jack Fulkerson freighted supplies to the Grand Encampment copper mining district at the beginning of the 20th century, earning his nickname for his ability to drive 20-horse teams with a single jerk-line, called a gee-string.
Her maternal grandparents homesteaded and ranched west of the Continental Divide while her father, who arrived in Encampment during the Depression, found work with the Civilian Conservation Corps and on ranches before eventually opening a garage in Encampment.
The log home designed by Lynn and with much of the work actually done by Lynn and her father, features log walls, weathered wood from old ranch hay cribs and rocks gathered in the nearby mountains and even from the river. The signature design elements are a bank of west-facing floor-to-cathedral-ceiling windows, a great room with cathedral ceiling and huge open beams, native stone fireplace, flagstone tile in front of the windows with a green slate thunderbird embedded, and a wrap-around deck that gives views to the west toward a small pond and of the river on the north.
You’ll find plenty of antiques and original art by R.G. Finney, who is known for his Western and wildlife paintings and sculptures
With saddles and Indian paraphernalia as decorative elements, this home is all about the West and the fact that virtually all of the antiques are personal family heirlooms makes Spirit West about as authentic of a place as you find anywhere.
What really makes these two Bed and Breakfasts inviting, beyond the history you can learn and the unique decor, are the innkeepers. Jim Osterfoss at Nagle Warren is a delight as are Lynn and R.G. Finney. You will be welcomed, entertained and pampered. Tell ’em I sent you.