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Omaha Magazine

Mariposa Remodel Brings Historic Charm to Papillion

Feb 01, 2022 11:33AM ● By Kara Schweiss
local gift shop interior with holiday decor

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

The origins of the Mariposa Home Gifts Design building are evident before patrons step through the front entrance of the eclectic shop in downtown Papillion. The word BANK is spelled out in tiles in the outer threshold. An upward glance reveals ghost signs, restored by the city in 2017, that flank the second story’s north- and south-facing walls and read “Banking House of A.W. Clarke/established 1880.” The bank vault behind the front counter shows the same words and is impossible for those walking into the store to miss.

A.W. Clarke established the first banking operation in Sarpy County. This place, on North Washington Street in downtown Papillion, was Clarke’s first bank building. The structure housed successor banks and a host of small businesses over the years, and Mariposa owner Vickie Petz said by the time she set up shop, it was quite an undertaking to restore the building’s historic charm. Her first business in the century-old space was called Your Country Connections.

“When we got the building in 2005, it was in really bad shape. There was a gunny-sack material on the walls. There was linoleum on top of the original floor and then cheap carpet glued on top of that,” Petz recalled. “We had to update, and it was a lot of cleaning up. When we were pulling down the gunny sack material, it would just fly everywhere. The bathroom was a total mess.”

The original wood floors were revealed and painted (a faint indentation scar outlines the location of the former teller counters), the walls were improved cosmetically with drywall or painted beadboard, and the space underwent a thorough cleaning. Petz set up Your Country Connections’ displays around an awkward layout of small spaces created in expansions that had been tacked on after the initial 1892 construction. 

Petz said she had long considered rebranding, and the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic presented a good time to close for remodeling. A going-out-of-business sale provided a financial boost that helped the renovation. Petz turned to her daughter-in-law, Angela Larsen of Larsen Designs, to guide the renovation. 

“She convinced me to update it,” Petz said. “And I’m so glad she did.” 

The biggest task was creating open space. 

“This used to be a hallway going to the back, with five rooms—they were small—three on one side and two on the other,” Petz said. Interior walls were removed to create one large space, which made it possible to also raise the 8-foot ceiling by several feet. New overhead support beams were left exposed and painted in a fashion true to the era of the building. The structural changes also facilitated wiring upgrades, retro-style metallic ceiling tiles, and the addition of some vintage light fixtures. 

Photo by Bill Sitzmann    

A wonderful surprise was revealed inside a wall: a well-preserved section of exterior brick and the building’s original back door surrounded by an intact grid of windows. With an awning added over the restored door, it’s now a charming interior focal point that provides a natural separation
of spaces. 

In September 2020, Petz’s business re-emerged as Mariposa, the Spanish term for butterfly. The shop now has space for larger items like furniture pieces and carries many small-batch, local, and unique items both new and repurposed. Mariposa is a fitting name for the transformed shop and honors Papillion itself, named as a version of the French word for butterfly. “It’s a great place to have a business,” Petz said. 

And business is brisk, she added. “There are so many people who’ve said they love the shop the way it is now and they’re happy I did it all.”

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This article originally appeared in the February/March 2022  issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

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