Celebrate The Mega-Stylish Victorians With Tea

PHOTO COURTESY OF POUDRE LANDMARKS FOUNDATION. Guests at the 2017 Tea on the Avery Lawn.

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Marty Metzger

Those Victorians sure knew how to party! While we might think of that late-1800s era as stuffy, straitlaced and stiff, folks back then fancied themselves as technologically astute and fun-loving.

PHOTO COURTESY OF POUDRE LANDMARKS. When you party like a Victorian at the Avery House, it’s like a walk back in time.

See for yourselves at a traditional tea, held on the beautiful grounds of the historic Avery House, where you’ll sip tasty tea and indulge in decadent sweets. Happy Lucky’s Teahouse of Fort Collins will provide the tea, and savory foods will include scones with cream, lemon curd and strawberry preserves; several varieties of traditional tea sandwiches; desserts.

While you feast as did the Victorians, you’ll be treated to a fashion show of “Wedding Gowns Through the Decades.” In addition, tea-themed items will be auctioned by silent bid, and all guests can tour the Avery House’s new exhibit, “Victorian Invention and Innovation.”

Tours are conducted by docents who tell the Avery family’s story. Historic costume collection pieces on display are from the Avery family and local donors. Meander through the rooms where these founders of Fort Collins lived and raised their children, and you’ll possibly feel a connection to them and their era, as well as gain further appreciation for the early days of the town just 130 or so years ago.

The festive event will be on Saturday, June 2, 2018, from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at 328 West Mountain Avenue. Proceeds from ticket sales and the auction will benefit the non-profit Poudre Landmarks Foundation (PLF) in its mission to preserve, restore, protect and interpret the architectural and cultural heritage of the Fort Collins area. The foundation manages not only the Avery House but another City of Fort Collins-owned historic property, the 1883 Water Works.

Franklin Avery, who surveyed Fort Collins in 1873, is responsible for our wide streets. He also founded the First National Bank and was instrumental in developing water projects that allowed Northern Colorado agriculture to flourish.

PHOTO COURTESY OF POUDRE LANDMARKS. Franklin Avery built the house in 1879 for his growing family.

Avery and his wife, Sara, built their family home in 1879 on the corner of Mountain Avenue and Meldrum Street. Construction cost just $3,000, including the beautiful locally quarried sandstone exterior. The two-story structure’s original floor plan consisted of just two rooms (now the entryway and dining area) on the main floor, three upstairs bedrooms, and a basement. By today’s standards, that might be considered a pretty tight squeeze for the Averys and their three young children, Edgar, Ethel and Louise. But as the kids grew, so did the house, to include several additions and the distinctive Queen Anne tower.

Avery family members occupied the home until it sold in 1962. PLF, formed in 1972, worked with the city to purchase it in 1974 for $79,000, and then oversaw its restoration. In 1981, PLF organized the Avery House Historic District Guild through which the house, the Margareth Merrill Memorial Gazebo, fountain and carriage house were listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Those wishing to attend the Tea on the Avery Lawn may purchase tickets in a variety of ways: online at poudrelandmarks.org; in person at the Avery House (Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 p.m.; or by calling (970)420-1520. Ticket prices are $30 for regular seating, or $35 for Royal Tea tables that include a special tea blend, preferential seating and a small gift. Additional information can be obtained by email at poudrelandmarks@gmail.com; phone (970)221-0533; or by visiting poudrelandmarks.org.

PHOTO COURTESY OF POUDRE LANDMARKS . Not only is the Avery House a beautiful setting for events like weddings and teas, but it is also on the National Register of Historic Places.