About the Inn: A Conversation with Peggy and Howard
Peggy: We love history, historical buildings and social culture and we are Printmakers. Our building is a Queen Anne Victorian, built in 1895, then converted to a hospital in 1906.
Howard: We needed a place for our studio and show our art work and accommodate guests. Friends from San Francisco told us about the Old Jones Hospital in Grass Valley. We saw it and then figured out how to buy it. Then the work started – taking up linoleum, painting walls, sheet rocking or plaster repair, sanding floors, all new experiences. Peggy always said it would look great when it was done – I think she said that every hour.
Peggy: Our oldest son once had a school assignment to count the doors and windows in his house – over 200 windows and fifty doors. I bet there were some big eyes! It is hard to describe all the space. Each guest room has a private bath with a claw foot tub, shower and all twenty plus rooms in the house have a story.
Howard: The concept of our art grew out of doing public stuff – art fairs and the Renaissance Faire in the late 60’s and Strike Posters at San Francisco State – Community Art – SECA for Portable Parks, environmental art in 1971. We thought it would a great combination to have guests learn about printmaking – enjoy our eclectic collection of books, art, furniture, and stuff.
Peggy: Working on it we always had our daily find - turning up the history of the Jones Hospital – the old house –great floors – funny stuff in the walls. I remember trying to come up with a name – it just boiled down to Swan and Levine – it’s just plain comfortable.
Howard: It’s hard not to know the people in our community, especially in the arts. I love my retirement job – Executive Director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association – I am doing art everywhere.
Peggy: We have both served on the Arts Council, Theatre Company boards and helped Music in the Mountains with events. I am currently on the Board of Center for the Arts and active in the restoration of the North Star House – Julia Morgan’s second residential design. Love the history and how it blends with culture.
Howard: The kitchen is a wonderful gathering room – it took us a while to get to the remodel – but sitting around the wood stove is great in the morning. Sometimes it’s hard to move people to the dining room to eat!
Peggy: The printmaking studio is in the 1867 Carriage House. The building was a really big project requiring a new foundation. It was built on four big flat rocks and had been a dump for bottles and trash.
Howard: The Printmaking studio is fully equipped for traditional printmaking, one litho press and three etching presses. We have silk screens, tools for wood engraving, plates for monotype and monoprint.
Peggy: We both love to draw, I respond to people’s living environment, their collections, I love to draw stuff. I am also attracted to flowers – I have been known to take the flowers home from an event.
Howard: My art is found in simple things all around me, from buildings to people, flowers and food. I just squint my eyes and it’s a picture. I love the colors, they are like music and the beating of the heart. It all works together – hopefully!
Peggy: The Suite is very sweet. The original master bedroom with separate sitting room with a beautiful antique tiled fireplace. The bedroom has lovely sitting area with views of town. It is the most traditionally decorated Victorian room in the house.
Howard: Surgery is just fun – old white tile floors, giant windows put in by the hospital to garner the light from the north, cabinets with treasures from the house, antique wicker, a big king sized bed, original scrub-up sinks in the bathroom. What a great operation we have!
Howard: The hospital added a ward in the thirties on the second floor. We call that space the Apartment and we have exposed the old exterior walls and decorated the space with forties, and fifties memorabilia. That foil Christmas tree, the formica table, and blonde wood. It’s a pop sensation.
Peggy: I guess we call it the Green Suite because it is green and yellow. The updated colors pay homage to the hospital colors of the period, the ones we found all over the building. We saw that green in many old flats in San Francisco. The Green Suite is comfy, with a hide-away couch and a family heirloom four poster queen bed and period antiques.
Howard: Back on the first floor we have a room called the library but its not all books (actually the book collection got too big and has moved throughout the house). Off the library in the enclosed old wrap around porch we have the soon to be famous etchings, monoprints, paintings of M. W. Swan and Howard Levine.