In few places do the principles of conservation, preservation and sustainability take a more tangible form than in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A full 97 percent of Teton County is protected in public lands, ensuring the area’s rugged beauty will remain purely intact for generations to come. The town’s electricity is generated exclusively from renewable resources, and local initiatives to reduce waste are helping to mitigate environmental footprints and support one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. Here, even the ski lifts run on green energy.
By the same measure, Jackson Hole is a community steeped in heritage and tradition. “The Last of the Old West,” the area’s rich Western history is evident at every turn. From tranquil horse and cattle pastures, many still family-owned and operated, to the more than 100-year-old National Elk Refuge, to the iconic antler arches on the Town Square, the valley’s frontier-town legacy shines bright as its own brand of conservation.
Jackson Hole’s unique blend of culture and conservatism, progress and perpetuation, creates a fitting milieu for a property that itself is an embodiment of sustainability. Situated in the heart of Wilson, Wyoming, one of Jackson Hole’s earliest ranching communities, Prairie’s End is a standard bearer of preservation-minded development—not only locally, but nationally as well.
Each of the estate’s structures, seated on 3.55 rolling acres in the lee of the Grand Teton Mountains, boasts a long and storied history. Restored to pristine condition and complemented with bespoke finishes, the buildings create a pastoral retreat imbued with centuries-old history. In a sense, these walls do speak, and their stories tell of some of the country’s earliest settlers and a bygone era when craftsmanship was as much art as science.
Prairie’s End’s primary residence, an impressive almost 4,000 square-foot home, is a masterpiece of modern restoration. Constructed around a more than 200-year-old barn that once sat near the shores of Lake Ontario, the residence’s exposed hand-hewn beams, cut from indigenous Eastern white pine timber, immediately convey a sense of past. The effect is supplemented by generations-old reclaimed siding and floors, American clay walls and flourishes so nuanced they could almost be missed—like the original builder’s initials, carved into the time-tested timbers.
“We searched extensively to identify the exactly right structure to create this home,” says owner John Holland, who surveyed over 100 historic buildings across North America. “The history was a critical component, but we also had to ensure the structural integrity could endure the long winters and the heavy snow load that the area receives. That made the Northeast Region a logical place to look. The Great Lakes barn we found is one of the most well-crafted structures in North America from its era.”
An open floorplan, which “marries the construction to the timber source,” and modern appliances add a level of sophistication and comfort to the home’s history. The spacious Teton-facing den and living room provide a space ideal for entertaining and that facilitates a flow between the kitchen and dining areas. The living quarters, too, afford the conveniences and luxuries to satisfy the most discerning buyers.
Adjacent to the primary residence lives Prairie’s End’s guest cabin, a rustic antebellum-era home that once stood on the banks of West Virginia’s Ohio River. The house’s history is quite literally built into the walls. Begun before the outbreak of the Civil War, the first half of the log structure employs V-notch joinery—a type of construction that required more extensive training and expertise than most at the time. Called to war, the initial builders sadly did not return, evidenced by the dovetail joinery that completes the building.
“Our cabin is a small piece of antebellum American history,” Holland says.
The estate also includes a stand-alone barn with its own legacy. Built as an Amish bank barn, the structure was crafted to withstand the long winters of the Ohio River Valley. Like the main cabin, the barn is built from native oak once common to the Northeast.
For Holland, the philosophy of preservation was learned at a young age. His parents and grandparents were involved in the restoration of several historic buildings in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Those experiences shaped his vision for Prairie’s End and helped provide the resources and understanding to bring the estate in its current form to fruition.
“Prairie’s End is great example of sustainable building,” Holland says. “As a community, Jackson Hole prizes conservation and environmental stewardship. Those principles are at the heart of preservation building. Projects like Prairie’s End are the very essence of green construction—as they are giving new life to structures that are hundreds of years old and that utilize original growth timbers that predate the earliest American settlers. This property demonstrates the possibilities of marrying the best of preservation history with contemporary finishes that spare no modern luxury.”
Holland partnered with Wilkinson Montesano Builders and timber partners back East to facilitate the dismantlement, transportation and reconstruction of each of the Prairie’s End structures. Each building was rebuilt in the exact design of the original structure with only a few minor exceptions.
Unique in every facet, Prairie’s End is an ideal property for the discerning buyer who values history, appreciates craftsmanship and values sustainability, Holland says. “They say great whiskey tastes better out of an old tin cup. That is the philosophy behind Prairie’s End.”