Solarium in Fort Collins Still Alive with Oldest Living Ficus Tree in Town

Oldest living Ficus tree in Fort Collins featured at atrium in Solarium. Photo by Monika Lea Jones.

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Jonson Kuhn | North Forty News

Solarium Studios in Fort Collins at 706 E. Stuart St. has a lot of history but hasn’t yet become history as it’s still proudly open to the public.  Elly Raisi has been the owner along with her sister and mom for roughly the last ten years; they wanted to get an investment property in town and came across the building known at the time as the Atrium. Elly’s sister Chelsea initially ran it solely by herself as a hostel under the name Solarium International Hostel back in 2014, however, Elly took over management once the pandemic hit and it then transitioned into more of a rental property for the sake of survival.

“Unfortunately, we essentially lost all of our bookings and it was sort of a sinking ship for my sister.  When she didn’t have the heart to watch her ‘baby’ go down, (so to speak) I kind of stepped in and my goal was to just get the bills paid, really, and keep the building.  It’s really expensive with the atrium inside, we were looking at maybe having to sell it or we weren’t sure with the climate of the whole world sort of being so uncertain; even to sell it didn’t really make much sense at the time because no one was looking to buy a building like this amidst a pandemic,” Elly explained. “We had been in kind of a back and forth with the city about zoning and what we were and weren’t allowed to do and ultimately the city didn’t want the hostel here, so one way or another, unfortunately, it was coming to an end.”

It was originally built as Fort Collins premiere photographer John Clark’s home and studio, with half of the building designed much like your average house with bedrooms and a kitchen with a living room and laundry room.  The other half of the building consisted of smaller rooms without bathrooms, which today are now rented out for business.  In addition, they currently have 8 single rooms that are rented out as long-term rentals.  There’s also an apartment onsite and that’s the only nightly rental, which is rented through Airbnb.

Along with long-term rentals, another thing Elly and her family are excited to be able to market now is the renting of the atrium for photography and small events. The atrium features a nearly 2,000-foot garden surrounded by beautiful tropical plants that helps keep the temperature of the room at 70 degrees year-round, but one of the most interesting aspects of the atrium is the fact that it’s home to Fort Collins’s oldest growing Ficus tree. The building was originally constructed without the atrium but then roughly sometime in the 1980s the garden was started, along with the dome being built overhead with the Ficus tree soon to follow after.

“It’s actually super fun when people see it because in town (Ficus trees) are just these little things, they don’t even look like that could be trees, but then our Ficus is like the biggest tree in our entire atrium,” Elly said.

If you’re interested in looking into renting a room, you’re invited to call (970) 481-4425 or send an email to, or if you’re interested in reserving the nightly rental, visit  For information regarding renting the atrium for photography or small events, you can do so at Finally, for more photos or general information regarding the location, you can visit their Facebook page at

Photo by Monika Lea Jones.
Monika Lea Jones stands with oldest living Ficus tree in Fort Collins. Photo by The Friendly Banjo Guy.
The atrium featured at Solarium. Photo by Monika Lea Jones.