Steamboat Springs Mike and Toni Hennessy's initials have been carved perfectly into an aspen tree. The initials "M + T" are encircled by a large heart.
The carving wasn't made in a grove of trees on Rabbit Ears or Buffalo Pass. Rather, the trees welcome guests into the couple's Priest Creek home. The faux grove of aspens cup the couple's dining room and bring a touch of the outside indoors.
Walking through the Hennessys' home Friday afternoon, Don Suazo, the general contractor who oversaw the creation of the $6.5 million home, reminisced about what it was like creating it.
"This house was built for the Hennessys," he said. "It wasn't built to be a show house or anything. Everything that is in this house means something to them. It's a piece of art."
Although the spacious and eclectic home wasn't built for public viewing, it was on display Saturday for the Steamboat Springs Parade of Homes. The self-guided tour linked five mountain homes in five different Steamboat Springs neighborhoods. Proceeds from the event benefited the Colorado Group Realty Charitable Foundation, which provides financial support to a wide range of community-based programs.
The homes were spread from one end of Steam-boat Springs to the other, including a towering medieval castle-inspired home in Buffalo Pass's Tatanka Ridge.
"It's different than anything else in Steamboat Springs because of its different architectural elements and structure," said Laurie Peter, advertising coordinator for Colorado Group Realty.
She said each of the homes had a unique personality that most people don't get to know.
"I think people enjoy looking at homes you don't normally get to see because you come back and get design ideas, whether you're redecorating or remodeling your own home," she said.
The Parade of Homes gives people a different perspective on Yampa Valley real estate, Peter said.
"It's a very private thing to have people come through your beautiful, custom mountain home," she said.
Although the Hennessys, who recently moved to Steamboat from Colorado Springs, were out of town Friday, they welcomed visitors to wander through their home, which included a 1,000-bottle wine cellar, mining-inspired stairwell, children's bunk house, library, teak-laden bedroom and custom fireplace.
"This house is very unique because nearly every room has incorporated the family's personal mementos," said Sauzo, the general contractor.
The teak wood in the home's bedroom, antique books in the library and a bison head hanging above the fireplace all came from Mike Hennessy's family, Sauzo said.
"It gives a new meaning to the personal touch," he said.
Sauzo said the home is unique because it strays from the ranching and Western themes seen in most mountain homes.
"It's not your typical home because everyone seems to lean toward that cowboy theme, but they went for a lodge-type theme," he said.
Annamarie Shunny, a Colorado Group Realty Charitable Foundation board member, said the parade offered a "slice of heaven not usually seen by the public."
"These homes, each distinguished from another, represent a variety of styles exhibited in mountain-home building," she said.
Colorado Group Realty sponsored the Steamboat Springs Parade of Homes and expected several hundred people to tour the homes by 3 p.m. Saturday.
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