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DENVER -- Jim Peiker is a former salesman turned innkeeper, tour guide and part-time marriage officiant. He still wakes up at 5:30 every morning to help prepare breakfast for his guests at the Castle Marne Bed and Breakfast because he wouldn't have it any other way.
He will turn 84 years old on Tuesday and decided it is finally time to retire. The property, including an adjacent carriage house, was recently put on the market for $2.29 million.
"I think it’s going to be good for my family as well as I think it’s going to be good for the castle itself," said Peiker.
He lost his wife, Diane, four months ago and said the house just isn't the same without her. The couple was married for 62 years and their children grew up along with the business.
"It's been a hard choice but we have finally come to the conclusion, and we've talked with the house, and the house is going along. We all have to make changes in our lives," said Peiker.
Peiker describes an unspoken understanding with the house, a special relationship that formed when his family first saw it in the late 1980s while searching for the perfect place to open a bed-and-breakfast.
"We saw it first, and we said, 'oh boy!' And we kept looking around and kept coming back, and kept coming back. And finally we realized that the house had selected us," said Marne.
The property was sitting vacant at the time when he bought it for $184,000 back in 1988. He raised money to complete a months-long renovation project and opened on August 1, 1989. He said the building was previously called the Marne, but he thought it looked more like a castle than a house, so the family decided to call it Castle Marne.
"When you walked in, you had a sense of 'wow, this is really quite a place,'" said Peiker. "The house has good karma. I like that.”
Peiker's love for his castle shines through as soon as you walk in the door. He knows just about everything about the house and will happily show you around. One of his favorite spots is a magnificent stained glass window that's original to the home.
Construction started in 1888 and pictures show what it looked like in 1890 when the Raymond family moved in. The home's unique stone facade is made from native lava stone, known as Rhyolite, that was quarried in Castle Rock.
The castle is listed on national and local historic registers and can be found on the Dupont Registry of American Castles. It was designed by renowned architect William Lange who is also responsible for the Molly Brown House.
"I like to think that our Castle Marne has a place in the sense of Denver and the sense of Denver's history," said Peiker.
He's not just looking for an offer, Peiker wants to make sure the next buyer will be a good steward of his beloved home. Several interested parties have already toured the property with their own ideas. He said some people want to maintain the bed-and-breakfast while others are interested in creating an event space or converting it into condos.
"I want them to understand not necessarily what the house means to me but what the house means to the city and what the house means to the neighborhood," said Peiker. "I think the house will have something to say about this."