Historic Light home for sale
Pioneer retailer's home listed on historic register
June 15, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The 1909 Edwardian home of pioneer Steamboat Springs retailer Francis Marion “F.M.” Light goes on the market this week for $2.2 million.
Listing broker Nick Metzler of Colorado Group Realty said the home, which sits on a hill overlooking Old Town, occupies a little more than an acre of land comprising three city lots.
The home has three levels, including a full basement, five bedrooms and a bathroom on each level. It has three covered porches taking in views of Rocky Peak, the Steamboat Ski Area and Emerald Mountain.
“My grandfather F.M. Light built this house,” Diane Light Parnell said. “Records show he first paid taxes on it in 1909. He bought this land as soon as he got here in 1905, and the family lived for a while behind the Sheridan Hotel.” That same year, in November, F.M. Light opened his landmark clothing store, F.M. Light & Sons, on Lincoln Avenue.
Diane Light Parnell and her husband, Jerry, own and live in the home. She was born next door in a home built of river rock by her father, Wayne Light. Her family moved in with her grandfather when she was 5 in 1937, to take care of him. He died four months later, and Wayne Light’s family remained in the home.
“It’s not often you find an Old Town home with this much land,” Metzler said. “I think community is still the core of the Old Town market. It’s still a place where you can ride your bike to go to stores or visit your neighbors.”
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Metzler said the existing property clearly offers the opportunity for a buyer to conserve the original home and develop additional homes on two essentially undeveloped lots. Or, they might decide to keep the expansive green lawn formed by the former horse pasture.
The Parnells insist that the entire property be sold as one.
“I think there are families in Steamboat that can afford to purchase the whole property,” Metzler said. “They might hold the other two lots for their children and keep them as a soccer field in the meantime.”
He valued the undeveloped lots at more than $500,000 apiece.
The Parnell/Light home is bright and airy with nine-foot ceilings, three bathrooms and a formal dining room with a bay window that takes in the upper ski slopes of Mount Werner. Of course, the ski trails did not exist when the home was built.
The home is on the state’s register of historic places, and the historical record shows F.M. Light purchased the land within three days of arriving in Steamboat, seeking relief from his asthma. The family had traveled by train to Wolcott, where it transferred to a stagecoach.
He paid William C. Crowner of Yampa $850 for the site of his new home.
A mason named Carl
Soon after, he hired two carpenters, Tom and Elmer Baer, to erect an 18-by-36-foot building that served as the original family home and later was modified to become a horse barn.
Originally, F.M.’s son, Clarence, hauled water up the hill from Soda Creek so his mother could do the laundry once a week, until F.M. paid the city $1,500 to run city water and sewer to the home site.
In winter 1908, sandstone blocks from the stone quarry on Emerald Mountain were procured to make the basement foundation and walls of the main house.
A miscalculation caused the basement floor to be out of level and a stonemason named Carl Howelsen skied in from Strawberry Park to correct the situation. Howelsen went on to establish Steamboat’s famous Winter Carnival.
The Parnells spent most of their lives together in Wisconsin and Minnesota while Jerry Parnell pursued a career as a TV director. However, they purchased the F.M. Light home from Diane’s brothers, Richard and Frank, about 15 years ago. The Parnells plan to move permanently to a home they own in Green Valley, Ariz.
The home they are preparing to leave has many desirable qualities, including a large walk-in closet in the master bedroom, expertly hung original doors and hardware, a downstairs workshop and sewing room, a downstairs room that would be ideal for a wine cellar, nine-inch thick interior walls, a former dairy barn to be used as a utility shed and the larger barn, which offers a spacious (and historic) garage.