The Tarabino Brothers, six in all, came to the United States of America from the Piedmont region of Northwest Italy in the 1800's. Originally settling in Colorado at the Engleville mining camp south of Trinidad, two brothers, John and Barney, later transferred their business interests to Trinidad. In August of 1899, they established the Famous Department Store on West Main Street. As the popularity of the store grew, it was expanded and remodeled to become one of the largest in Trinidad. The local architectural firm of I.H. and W.M. Rapp was commissioned to design the building's structural changes in 1904, and again in 1909.
Real estate and ranching interests also encompassed the brothers' business ventures. Two other brothers, Peter and Luigi, would move to Trinidad and become involved in various business ventures. Because of their close business ties, and as their families grew, John and Barney decided to build a home that they could share. The brothers chose a prominent knoll on Trinidad's south side for their new home. Peter and Luigi also built homes in the area. Peter's house was located at Second and Chestnut, just west of John and Barney's, while Luigi built a bungalow at Seventh and Chestnut. The large brick house that is now the Tarabino Inn, built on a foundation of manufactured stone, was completed in November of 1907.
Stylistically the structure can not be placed into any particular category of architecture, although the house has been referred to as Italianate and/or Victorian. It is suspected that the design came from the office of the Rapp brothers. The design is based on the shape of the letter U with a front veranda supported by smooth columns that are joined by vase-shaped balustrades; all manufactured of precast concrete. Brick quoins are used at each right angle of the building. A steeply pitched gable roof, with flared eaves, graces each arm of the "U" and converges into a hip roof that includes a dormer on each side. There are two sun porches on the south side of the house looking towards Fisher's Peak. There is an original carriage house located just below the Tarabino House to the east which was built of manufactured stone. Many other structures that had been on the property, such as a school house, smoke house and outhouses, have long been lost.
After more than thirty years as residents of Trinidad, John and Barney retired to Santa Monica, California, leaving property interests in Trinidad to be represented by the Tarabino Real Estate Company. John Tarabino died in Santa Monica in September 21, 1918 followed by Barney in September 14, 1921. The Tarabino House remained in the family until the 1960's. It has since changed hands several times but remains much as it was nearly 100 years ago.