Story Jan Swoope | Photograph Luisa Porter
Mary Jane Carpenter hails from a rodeo family.
The timber home she built in Prairie with her husband, Rick, leaves no doubt about it. Moving in back in 2009 was the fulfillment of their mutual dream. When Rick succumbed to cancer in 2013, the house — and the special places in it — became Carpenter’s sanctuary.
“We both loved horses and the Western lifestyle, and everything in the house has to do with that,” she says. Cowhide-covered furniture, western prints, old spurs and rodeo prizes surround her. Some were won by her husband, who went to the National Finals Rodeo in saddle bronc riding three times. Some were earned by Mary Jane, and still others by her eldest son, who is on the professional rodeo circuit.
Saddles custom-made by Rick, plus others won by the family, occupy places of honor. So do heirlooms passed down from Carpenter’s mother and grandparents.
“I got rid of everything except things that were really important to me,” says Carpenter. “The whole place is my personal space.”
Her job as marketing director for Stetson and Resistol hat brands requires some time on the road, but coming home is the carrot at any trip’s end.
“I go and travel a lot, but my house is my security blanket,” Carpenter says. “It’s always good to come home.”