Casa Mariposa: capturing the magic of Taos

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Casa Mariposa in Des Montes is a dance of light and shadow. The mood of the home changes with the time of day and the seasons. This spectacular house was designed to echo the shape of a mountain on the ancient volcanic plain to the west. Pueblo and territorial architecture are captured and reinterpreted in a completely original way by world-renown architect Antoine Predock.

The well-designed interior of the house offers a warm embrace of enclosure surrounded by expansive mountain and mesa views. Golden hour sunsets turn Taos Mountain amber and red in the winter and during the spring and summer rains there are views of double rainbows.

The heart of the home is a double-sided fireplace that warms both the cozy den and the high-ceiling living room. The windows from the  first and second floors offer glimpses of sky and peaks in all directions, allowing the full moon to shine in at night.

Casa Mariposa is a home designed for welcoming family and friends. With 5,000 square feet of living space and a wrap-around portal, along with a one-bedroom casita, there is plenty of room for guests and residents to enjoy the magic of the home.

Guests enter through a honeysuckled-covered trellis with the one-bedroom casita on one-side of the entry portal and the grand entrance of the house on the other. A courtyard features a graceful fountain and pear trees. From the entryway, an upstairs stairway leads to a cozy nook for reading and relaxing, along with a dramatic second story balcony with views to Taos Mountain and El Salto.

Sense of place

Casa Mariposa and its surrounding 19 acres were part of the Johnson dairy ranch in the 1930s and 40s and was surrounded by the Mariposa Ranch. Connie and Nat Troy bought the land in the early 1980s. Based on a recommendation from a bartender at the St. Bernard, the couple selected Antoine Predock of Albuquerque, not knowing of Predock’s growing international reputation.

The Troys met with Predock on the site and together observed the surrounding peaks, with Taos Mountain to the east and the snow-covered Truchas to the south. From the land, there are also long views to the west, dominated by flat-topped Pedernal and the more-gentle sloped mountain to the north that became the inspiration for the shape of the house. According to Nat Troy, Predock immediately saw what he should design, with the placement of the windows and the glass doors to frame the views and allow the full moon to shine in.

“We are traditional people and after we met with Predock, we were expecting a more conventional design,” says Nat Troy. “When we visited next, he had a model of the home to show us. It incorporated aspects of pueblo and territorial design, however, it was anything but traditional. Although we were surprised, we loved it right away.” The interior of the home has a traditional feel with its wooden beams and plaster walls, points out Connie Troy. The home has won several design awards and has been featured in Architectural Digest and a book on the homes of the desert southwest, among other publications.

Casa Mariposa was built as a second home. The Troys loved it so much they moved here permanently and have owned it ever since. Since 1988, they have been full time residents and enjoyed entertaining at the home. Although they are ready to downsize and sell the house, they love the area so much, that when the home is sold, they will move nearby to an old ranch house and will be the closest neighbors.

The Troys have helped created several long-standing local traditions. The Big Barn Dance was started in their nearby barn at Casa de Caballos as a neighborhood gathering and took place here for several years until it moved to the former OBL restaurant (now Medley) and eventually Kit Carson Park. Nat Troy was known for driving his horse-drawn buggy out for dinner and for appearing in the annual  Arroyo Seco Fourth of July parade.

The future of Casa Mariposa

Into the future, the nearby lands will maintain their open character, as the Troys intend to hold the 600 acres surrounding the home in their current agricultural state.

The wide-open views from the 3,000 square foot wrap-around portal will continue unobstructed, as they have been from the beginning. The gracious home has been the site of several local weddings and will no doubt host future grand events, as well as quiet family gatherings around the fireplace in the winter.

Almost daily, hawks circle the land and a herd of deer visit. Casa Mariposa is a feature of the landscape now, joining the mountains and volcanic peaks that encircle it.

Features of the property

The house is heated with radiant floor heat powered by natural gas and has multiple fireplaces on both floors. The thick walls keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer.

An outbuilding is attached to a barn and corral. It is now used as an exercise room but has been an office and could be a casita.

The land comes with water rights that can be used to irrigate the apple orchard.

The Des Montes location is between the town of Taos and Taos Ski Valley and convenient to the airport.

For more information

                  To find out more, contact Jolie Jones of Piñon Investments of Taos at (575) 776-8106 or email jolie@taoshomegirl.com.  Visit the website at www.pinoninvestmentsoftaos.com.

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