After Bob and Ted purchased the small restaurant named Coles Corner Cafe and renamed it The Squirrel Tree, the transformation to a Bavarian Alpine theme for the city of Leavenworth was underway!
Today, most folks no longer ask “what is Leavenworth Washington” without getting a response from anyone that has been there such as: ” It is a wonderful, almost euphoric atmosphere that permeates the entire city.” (see part 1)
Major Changes With Immediate Success
With the final touches on the newly named Squirrel Tree Restaurant now in place, the two business men realized that they had a highly successful operation. In fact, about one year later, the two built the The Squirrel Tree Chalet Motel.
It too, became an overnight success. Flushed with so much success, both Ted and Bob had plans for extending their Alpine – Bavarian theme by creating an authentic style “Old Bavarian Village” that would be next to the restaurant.
However, because of difficulties, that project was never fulfilled.
One of the main attractions that caught everyone’s attention while dining at the Squirrel Tree was the wild bears that would come to the restaurant for food scraps.
Soon, they became so “friendly” that they would take scraps of food out of the hands and sometimes, the mouth, of those working in the restaurant!
But all had to beware…because after all, these animals were still wild.
Leavenworth Takes On Bavaria
With the city of Leavenworth only a few miles away, the city officials began to rethink their own success. Ted, too, came in touch with the city officials to further the Bavarian theme throughout the city.
With the help of the University of Washington (a.k.a. the “U” District) Ted spearheaded the L.I.F.E. project.
L = Leavenworth
I = Improvement
F = For
E = Everyone
It began by encouraging tourism to the area. As travelers slowly began to drift into Leavenworth, Ted quickly realized that the Old Bavarian Village that he originally wanted, could be fulfilled right there throughout the small city of Leavenworth.
However, it had to be more than storefronts with Alpine – Bavarian style facades. To be successful, the entire city needed to have a makeover, along with the local residents.
With many “bumps” in their way, Ted and the city officials, began in earnest to have this dream fulfilled.
A Struggle To Become Successful
For many years after the Great Depression, the small town of Leavenworth was considered to be a ‘welfare town’ that would never amount to anything worthwhile.
Having their little school building condemned and needing a new one, there was difficulties to overcome. After all, both Ted and Bob were “outsiders” from Seattle and were not to be trusted.
On the other hand, those that realized the potential of an Alpine – Bavarian Village, undertook the challenge. Many had to go into deep debt to have their storefronts and interiors totally changed over.
Being a very risky venture, almost all of the business owners would have to make huge sacrifices and risk all of their futures on this venture.
Massive changes needed to be made if they were to survive.
Even their everyday dress attire had to be in the Bavarian styles. It was all so different to the locals!
Project Alpine Gets Underway
Only a few of the longtime residents (at first) would give both Ted Price and Bob Rodgers any support. That was back in the early/middle 1960’s.
However, with the early support of Owen and Pauline Watson, LaVern Peterson, Vern and Ann Herrett, the project got underway. These early pioneers into the then, unknown, would soon realize that their venture would quickly pay off.
With the purchase of several of the local storefronts in very bad condition, Bob and Ted set out to renovate all of them. Often on the verge of bankruptcy, they pushed ahead.
It did not take long for others to join in with the facelift of their small city. Total remodels were the thing of the future.
Needed changes in the city building codes were needed. Once done, it allowed the changes to the realism of the Bavarian theme by the steep slopes in the shapes and styles of the roof tops of each building.
Now with the Bavarian roofs, ironworks, balconies, and the burying of all telephone and power lines, the city began to take on the Alpine-Bavarian township look that was most desirable.
In order to promote tourism, both Ted and Bob instituted the Four Seasons Events…the Autumn Leaf Festival…the Christmas Lighting…the Mai Fest…and finally the Art In The Park.
Leavenworth Waterfront Park was also promoted in the early 1970’s and now draws thousands of tourists to the town’s frontage area located on the Wenatchee (wee-nat-chee) River.
Why Not Come Join Us?
Leavenworth Washington has undergone some major changes over the past 100 years. It will continue to do so…but in the Alpine – Bavarian style. Why not come see for yourselves?
If you are intrigued, then the first seasonal fest would be the Oktober Fest beginning the last week of September. Each year it draws thousands to its festive atmosphere, beer gardens, food courts, Bavarian style dances and much, much more.
Leave your comments below if you’ve enjoyed your “mountain visit” to Leavenworth.
Written by : Tom McDaniel Share this site