Coffee and history: Artful Cup showcases stories of Grand Valley pioneer familyJul 05, 2018 03:47AM ● By C.J. Payton
Amelia and Lawrence Miller.
What do a cup of coffee, a curly goat and an elegant garden have in common? They’re all part of the story of the Miller Homestead on HopeWest’s care center campus.
The Miller Homestead houses the Artful Cup, an amicable coffee house and gift shop, where the sales from its handcrafted beverages and artwork benefit the HopeWest Kids program. Patients and their families, volunteers and community members are drawn in by the shop’s inviting atmosphere brought on by its friendly baristas and historic charm.
Starting in July, the Artful Cup will transition from a modern, art-focused shop to one that showcases the rich history of the Miller Homestead and tells the story of one of Grand Junction’s pioneer families.
The Miller estate
Built in 1889, the 2,650 square-foot home belonged to Lawrence and Amelia Miller, childhood sweethearts who ended up in the Grand Valley after they left the East Coast and headed west.
It was a country home located in the town of Hillcrest, which had a population of 400 and occupied one square mile.
The Miller’s Hillcrest estate was the showplace of the Grand Valley. The housewarming party was the event of the season. The estate became part of the Fairmont community in 1916, which encompassed properties owned by several notable Grand Valley families.
Lawrence was an active community member, who eventually became mayor, and served as president of Grand Valley Canal and Grand Valley District Ditch. The book, “Progressive Men of Western Colorado” (published by A.W. Bowen & Co), recognizes him as one of the most prosperous farmers of his neighborhood and “the special apostle of irrigation in this section of the county.”
Amelia was a leader in beautifying the community, taking first and second prizes in gladiolus shows at the Mesa County Fair in 1928. She created a garden she called Tanglewood that was awash with color and fragrance, enveloping the property with roses, violets and pansies that she graciously shared with neighbors.
Preserving the past
The Miller Homestead has been on the City of Grand Junction Historic Register since 2007, and is the only house of its age open to the public. The estate’s integrity and beauty remain as a tribute to these local dignitaries, and Amelia’s Tanglewood Gardens are the inspiration for the gardens surrounding the campus today.
The property changed hands a few times before the Gene Taylor family donated it to HopeWest in 2007. The building had fallen in such disrepair that HopeWest CEO Christy Whitney was pressured to tear it down.
“It was in rough shape from years as a rental for college students and it was expensive to renovate,” Whitney said, “but I couldn’t destroy this piece of history.”
Community members banded together to restore the property to its original splendor. Wanting to preserve as much of the original home as possible, community members did meticulous research, and period architecture, antiques and design trends were implemented in the renovation, which was completed that same year.
Sibyl Halliday, a HopeWest nurse, created the transoms above the doors to reflect the time period as well as a stained-glass piece that hangs in the window.
A community icon
With help from the Museums of Western Colorado, HopeWest Marketing & Communications Manager Marisa Felix-Campbell spent the last few months learning everything about the history of the house and the Miller family.
“The Millers were all about enriching their community back in the 1800s, and that is what we are trying to do today with the Artful Cup and Miller Homestead,” said Felix-Campbell.
The Artful Cup’s mascot that’s featured throughout the shop is an Angora goat named Lazarus, which belonged to the Millers’ son, Mac. Lazarus won first prize at the Kansas City Fair in 1900, and now has a specialty drink named after him—a chocolate, almond and coconut latte dubbed the Curly Goat.
There are other Miller-themed specialty drinks, like the Gracious Gardener, a hot tea made from local lavender inspired by Tanglewood Garden.
Lunch items, including delectable croissant sandwiches, have been added to the menu, along with a selection of Palisade jams, Enstrom toffee and ice cream, and homemade biscotti.
Patrons can take a stroll through the pristine gardens, or enjoy a pastry or beverage while playing a game of cribbage, chess or Scrabble. They can learn more about the Miller family and the homestead in the parlor, which will be transformed into a mini museum.
Vintage jewelry, artwork and flower arrangements reflect the essence of the house, offering a unique experience for residents and visitors alike.
“We hope this piece of Mesa County history will be a place for friends and family to gather as well as an experience for tourists looking to grab coffee in a quaint historic home,” said Community Relations Manager Callie Rapke. “We invite guests to come experience the historic Miller Homestead and all the history we’ve uncovered.”
To learn more, visit the Artful Cup, 3090 N. 12th St. in Grand Junction. The Artful Cup is open from 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.