Prospect Valley Hospitality, Inc. (PVH)
(Inspiring DETAILS follow below)
The decades old vison of a home of hospitality for short-term missionary visits became a reality in August of 2001. The search began and a charming 1872 property with old west ambiance was found.
Many renovations were required to see the vision come to life. After 9-11 caused the original bank to back out, a financial backer was located who had one big requirement. He required that multi-year renovations be completed in one year. The challenge was accepted and miraculously met.
A NEW BEGINNING
The conversion of the property took many volunteers. They came at just the time a critical need revealed itself. As the charming restoration took shape it drew the positive attention of the community as the new ministry came to life. The property transformed into a beautiful garden setting.
The property has a colorful history including a tavern, a grocery store and beauty shop, a gas station and possibly a Lookout Mountain Stagecoach Stop.
THE MISSION LAUNCHED
The first missionaries arrived from Uganda, Africa before the renovations were completed. They stayed in the main house with the founder. Then a parade of nations from all over the world followed and continues today.
A WORD FROM THE FOUNDER
Prospect Valley Hospitality Inc. is the realization of the founder Kimary Marchese. It was her longing and dream to have a home large enough to accommodate her gift of hospitality and marry it to her desire to serve missionaries. She says, “A lot of people would say I must have had a lot of faith to buy the property but truthfully I had only a little faith when I bought the place and NOW I have a Lot of Faith!”
HISTORY OF THE FOUNDING OF PROSPECT VALLEY HOSPITALITY
For decades, founder, Kimary Marchese desired to buy a home property large enough to serve as a place of hospitality for visiting missionaries. The 2001 discovery of a wonderful property, possessing every quality on the “needs-list”, made her feel the time had come to see that hope become a reality.
An offer was made and she was set to close in September on a charming 1872 property that included several structures with an old-west ambiance. The contract was ratified and the financing prequalification confirmed. Unfortunately, that fateful day, now known as 9/11, caused the original funding source to back out.
The contract expired with no further financing options. Just when it looked like the property was lost, the realtor connected the founder with a man from his Kiwanis Club. This man offered to fund the property for one year. By the end of that year, the entire “complex” needed to be adequately renovated to attract a traditional funding source or lose the property along with the year’s worth of sweat equity and the $40,000 put into the improvements.
The prospect of having to do such extensive renovations in less than one year made it seem like an extraordinary risk. Next, 40 people came to pray over the property for wisdom. That time of prayer helped Kimary to decide to take the risk. She knew that what was originally supposed to be a 30-year project was now, out of necessity, becoming a 10-month project! She also knew it could not be done alone.
HISTORY OF THE SITE
LOVE AT FIRST SITE: There it stood, an 1872 property so much the stereotype of the American West that at first it was thought to be a reproduction. There it stood with its charming Old West storefront, a main house with a pillared front porch, an overhead apartment with its windows peeking out over the trailing wisteria, chicken coops, outhouse and wonderful two-bedroom cottage to the west. It was undeniably an attention-getter. The realtor immediately cautioned that it was a very high-maintenance property.
A VARIED PAST: The seller’s real estate agent referred to a colorful history that included a tavern in the cottage and a stagecoach stop in the main house. The Wheat Ridge Historical society had an old photo in the archives that neither confirmed nor disproved either claim.
Originally, they thought being a tavern was farfetched because this was a “dry” county for many years. However, a 2002 conversation with Helen “Beliel, age 86 at the time, revealed that her parents bought the property just 3 days before her wedding in 1936. At that time, the cottage on the west end was “Sis’s Tavern”. It was heated by a coal stove and had no plumbing. They were using the double-seated outhouse that is still out back. The stagecoach part of the history is yet to be confirmed. But the suspicion is that it was indeed the last stop on the Lookout Mountain stagecoach line as reported by local lore.
THE HOMESTEAD BUILDINGS: The original abstract was obtained at the loan closing. It showed that the United States government had deeded the homestead to Mr. James Kelley in 1870. By 1872 the main house was built. Circa 1911 the storefront was added. It was probably also in 1911 that the second level of the main house was converted into an apartment and the front half of the cottage/tavern was built. The back half of the Cottage is cinder block construction, and its date is unknown.
There are several out-buildings, including two structures that were most likely originally chicken coops. Susan Craig Bongers, the seller, says that by time her parents and she arrived one was used like a tool shed and the other for coal storage. One is now used for gardening tools and the other has been converted to a garden prayer chapel. Don’t forget the original double seated out house! The out buildings were originally down by the river behind the property, called Lena Gulch, since the farming days. They were later moved by the City when it took part of the property for the Lena Gulch Reclamation project.
THE INHERITANCE: The property was purchased from Susan Craig Bongers. It had been run for decades by her parents Jack and Elsie Craig as Prospect Valley Grocery, a kind of general store which all the locals called “Jack & Elsie’s Place”. Wheat Ridge natives fondly tell stories of running across the street from the now long-gone Prospect Valley Elementary School building and delightfully choosing from 100 kinds of penny candy.
An old newspaper clipping makes it obvious that the Craigs were pillars in the community, and anyone now left who knew them, has fond memories of Jack and Elsie.
Apparently, Elsie did a little hair dressing out of the store. In addition to being the local shop-keep, Jack was a Lutheran Sunday School Teacher.
The site did a brief stint as a combination store and gas station, but the tanks were pulled up and removed by Texaco ages ago.
Susan was a young child when her parents moved here and she had married, moved to Loveland and had children of her own before her parents passed away and she inherited “Jack & Elsie’s Place”. She rented out the storefront to a series of miscellaneous businesses that have included: a vegetable stand, a yarn shop, a baseball trading card shop and lastly an Antique Store.
Susan was in a quandary though. She lived too far away to keep the place in shape but knew most prospective buyers were only interested in the commercial zoning and might tear down the beloved historic structures. In fact Ms. Bongers had technically taken it off the market for that reason and initially did not respond to further requests to show the property when the PVH founder first inquired.
The founder and her realtor were perplexed by the lack of response from the sellers realtor. She prayed over it and felt lead to include her Buffalo Bill Museum exhibitor’s business card and a photo of her and a friend in reproduction Victorian attire. The realtor admitted it was a quirky request, but he submitted an offer including the card and photo and Susan Bongers accepted the offer. Ms. Bongers admitted at the closing that the founders’ love of history, as demonstrated by her profession and history reenacting photo, convinced her that if ever there was a buyer she could trust to preserve the original character of the property, this was it. Mrs. Craig Bongers even agreed to sell it for less money than a previous offer.
A NEW VISION: From the beginning, the founder knew she would need to restore the residential units to rent. Her desire was to host Christian missionaries, primarily in the detached cottage. When that wasn’t available, she would share the main house. The long-term goal still is that one day, all the property’s units, including the overhead river view apartment, will house missionaries or full-time, Christian, non-profit workers.
The property closed with the temporarily financing on Thanksgiving weekend 2001. While scores of volunteers worked on the rest of the property, the new apartment tenant fixed up the one-bedroom, river view overhead apartment at their own expense.
The Storefront is the flagship feature of the property and a people-magnet. It is so charming, that hardly a day passes when someone does not come by to commend the restoration and inquire about a “tour”.
People would say, “You must have had a lot of faith to buy this place”. Kimary would respond truthfully, “I had only a little faith when I bought the place and NOW I have A LOT of faith!”
A CONTAGEOUS VISION: The men’s group from New Community Christian Church in Denver was the first to embrace the vision. They volunteered on Saturday mornings for several months. They did everything from finishing off the collapsing “barn”, to propping up the mailbox, to stripping off 4 layers and 130 years’ worth of flooring in the main house.
From there, others began to catch the vision. A carpenter and member of Arvada Covenant Church began organizing friends from the church’s singles group and started to work on the missionary guest cottage.
Another volunteer was a manager at LL Johnson, the sprinkler company. In addition to adding a great pond and fountain, he made the yard a poster child for a special underground drip system that rooted new sod in record time and saved 65% over the normal sod watering bill! Since all this was being done during a drought, it was critical to getting the water board to grant special permission to bypass drought planting restrictions and allow the new landscaping to take place. That same volunteer began converting the old chicken coop, turned coalhouse, into a garden prayer chapel.
The former storefront was a project for the Foothills Bible Church youth group. Additionally, a woman who was a member of Wheat Ridge’s Harvest Christian Community salvaged the original blue and red heart shutters on the cottage. And various people began building a gazebo. One of the founder’s favorite days was when farm kids from the Hudson, Keenesburg and Fort Lupton communities were let go with chain saws and a borrowed tractor. They cleared the land then played video games. The tractor was borrowed from Lindgren Landscaping-owned by a man who had never even met the founder nor seen the property!
CITY-WIDE SUPPORT: Many people contributed much to a project that had no guarantee of succeeding. Sometimes complete strangers would knock on the door and say, “I heard you need help”. Every profession imaginable showed up as needed: from a commercial electrician from Heritage Christian Center to an engineer from Church in the City. All total, more than two-dozen churches and civic groups, not to mention countless individuals, contributed to the transformation of this property. And that was just the first year. Not everyone volunteered, but even the paid help was usually greatly discounted.
The project manager nicknamed “Michael the Angel” had people drive right up to the project and ask to hire him away at more than double what he was being paid for coordinating the renovation. He would not budge from PVH. He was determined to make the reappraisal and financing deadline and remained devoted to PVH the rest of his life.
Even the City of Wheat Ridge zoning department seemed to be rooting for the project—going the extra mile to explain what was needed for every step and each permit. It seemed like the whole community loved and supported the revitalization of the property.
Then with hardly a few weeks to spare the property was reappraised with enough equity to bring the risk level of the loan down. After a talk with the CEO of ASFCU, now named The District credit union, the permanent financing came just in the nick of time. The improvements to the property that first year far exceeded everyone’s expectations. The founder is quoted as saying, “It was like having a front row seat to a miracle!”
The first visiting missionaries were from an orphanage in Uganda, Africa before the cottage was even renovated. They had to “camp out” in the main house. Soon thereafter, there were contacts from Tibet, Ghana, France, Kenya, Ireland, Peru, Korea, Namibia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Rwanda, England, Columbia, American relief workers for Honduras, Romania and workers on Native American Indian Reservations! Even Catholic nuns from Guatemala have stayed at Prospect Valley Hospitality, Inc.
The former storefront is connected to the main house living room. For the first 10 years PVH used it as a dining room / meeting room. Once the storefront-turned-dining-room was even used for a week long seminar training volunteers who flew in from other states to learn to dig and maintain water wells in 3rd-world countries. This former storefront, extension to the main house has had no commercial use since the property purchase in 2001.
Housing Katrina Hurricane victims birthed the creation of a temporary studio in-law apartment use in the former storefront connected to the main house. Years later insufficient income and the enormous expense of the property up-keep caused PVH to go up for sale in 2014. The salvation of the vision was the last-minute realization that the 2-bedroom cottage needed to be used to bring in more rent support for the property which would enable a refinance. The missionary use needed to move exclusively into the former storefront. In 2014 $10,000 was invested in converting the former storefront into a better configuration for a Studio in-law apartment for ministry guests.
It is still the long-term goal that one day the non-profit will bring in enough support that all the units can be dedicated to housing Christian workers. Only God knows what lies in “store” for the future.
HISTORY OF THE FOUNDER
Kimary Marchese purchased the property at 10400 W. 38th Avenue in Wheat Ridge, in the middle of her 15-year tenure as the Exhibit Coordinator for the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave in Golden, Colorado. The former Lookout Mountain Stagecoach Stop had an obvious link to her personal interest in the American Old West and the Victorian era. The museum had introduced her to one of her enduring passions of re-enacting and acquiring authentic reproduction Victorian attire. She was one of the founding members of the Victorian Heritage Society of Colorado Springs now know as the Victorian Society of Colorado and is irrevocably attracted to western history.
Kimary graduated from Hawaii Baptist Academy in Honolulu Hawaii and then received her BFA in Communication Design Graphics from the University of Denver in 1982. She had an elective emphasis in Architecture and Design from her Junior year study abroad in Denmark, Europe. She had also attended a Mission Bridge School during her 19-year membership in Denver’s Calvary Temple Church now The Pearl Church.
Kimary had been on several short-term mission trips beginning in her early twenties which included rural Jamaica and later Uganda, Africa. She invited Christian Missionaries into her small Denver bungalow often throughout the years before finding her way to Wheat Ridge. She would give up her own bedroom and “camp” in her living room, but she observed that this made missionaries feel like they were a burden. The Stagecoach Stop turning into “Prospect Valley Hospitality” was the realization of Kimary’s longing to have a place large enough to accommodate her gift of hospitality.
In addition to hosting international visitors at her home “Prospect Valley Hospitality,” Kimary has been involved in International Student Friendship programs and been a foster parent four times. After Calvary Temple, Kimary became a member of New Community Christian Church (NC3) for 4 years until the churched moved south as Kimary moved west. Kimary has been a member and rotating Elder at Harvest Christian Community church in Wheat Ridge since 2001.
One of her own longtime missionary activities was volunteering with Colorado’s incarcerated youth. Eventually that passion persuaded her to leave her much-loved Exhibit Designer profession and return to the University of Denver for her Master’s Degree in Education.
Kimary has been a high school teacher in the Brighton juvenile detention center, AYSC, now called Prairie Vista Youth Services Center, since 2007. In 2017 Kimary married George Fischer who now serves on the PVH Advisory Board and has served as President of the Victorian Society of Colorado for many years.
Prospect Valley Hospitality, church leadership, teaching, Victorian Society Membership and marriage keep Kimary quite busy. Kimary’s love of hosting missionaries has been greatly supported by her church Harvest Christian Community.