Once upon a time back in the 1900s, folks could support local community hospitals and really get behind efforts to expand and improve services. Those were halcyon days when the Blue House tea room flourished. It was the last major repurposing of the lovely old farm house…so far.
Had it not been for Lutheran Hospital administrators who in 1978 offered operating responsibilities for the house to the thriving Lutheran Auxiliary as a replacement for their storage barn that was scheduled to be razed, the Blue House story might have ended then.
The new home provided just the ticket. An army of 46 Auxiliary volunteers logged 2,000 hours of remodeling time and used 45 gallons of paint to spruce up the place. They also replaced broken windows, patched holes, hung 72 rolls of “velvet” wallpaper, and laid red carpet to complement the newly refinished woodwork. Only the electrical, plumbing and structural repairs were outsourced.
The famous Blue House Tea Room and Consignment Shoppe opened in April 1985 on the main floor of the refurbished Victorian farmhouse. The plan was simple: open only two hours on weekdays for lunch; pay for a professional chef, an assistant and a dishwasher; offer delicious foods on a menu that changed weekly; and staff it entirely with volunteers from the Auxiliary.
It was a resounding success. By December 1986, just 20 months after opening, all remodeling and start-up costs had been repaid. The tea room celebrated its five-year anniversary in 1990 with a total of 65,000 lunches served. Those successes continued into the ‘90s, despite changes in management, menus and chefs. In 1995 the tea room looked back on 10 successful years of serving delicious food and fostering cherished memories.
Sadly, in 1997 the Blue House closed, the combined result of the disbanding of the Lutheran Auxiliary after the hospital’s sale to Exempla and lack of funding for required improvements to bring it up to restaurant code.
Now the Blue House and surrounding historical structures are in danger of being bulldozed in order to make way for commerce and “mixed-use” housing. It’s prime real estate along the 38th Avenue corridor. At a recent Wheat Ridge city council study session, nearly every council person, along with the mayor, voiced support for saving the house and three nearby structures. But along with that, they were firm in their plea to hear from citizens on where the community stands.
MIG, the consulting firm hired by SCL and the city to design an overall plan for the 100-acre tract, has taken the stance that the future of the Blue House is up to developers. That’s not entirely accurate. The future of that small plot in SCL Lutheran’s northeast corner on 38th depends on us.
In other news, sorry to report that, for the month of September at least, the Wheat Ridge Historical Society’s Historical Park museums are only open Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., for tours.