On Tuesday, July 16, the BV Women’s Connection will celebrate their 25th annual – and final – Victorian Tea at the historic Bonney house, 408 Princeton Ave.
The Victorian Tea has taken place at the Bonney house all 25 years, hosted by Randy and Andi Hendrie who have lived there since 1992. Some light fixtures and paintings had to be replaced, Andi said, but the house was otherwise in very good shape.
Built in 1883 and named for Josiah Morris Bonney, the Carpenter Gothic house has had six or seven owners, including the Hendries. According to Andi, it even served as a mortuary at one time. It was placed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places on Dec. 19, 1994, and the Colorado State Register of Historic Places on Aug. 9, 2000.
The backyard has hosted weddings, showers and other different occasions. Decorated with colorful flowers, some fountains and even Cottonwood Creek running close by, it also makes a gorgeous place for a Victorian Tea. And after the program concludes, many of the guests like to take a tour of the house.
For 24 years, the tea has never been rained out, though it has been known to rain before or after the event. “One year I think my husband had 12 bath towels going out there, wiping off all the tables,” Andi says.
Another year, a couple came from northern Colorado to speak and sing at the tea. The wife was a professional singer, and they hauled a lot of equipment to the event.
“It didn’t rain all during the meeting, but as we were closing up – and we close up about noon – it started to pour. I felt really bad because he had all that equipment and he had to roll it from that side of the yard clear out to the driveway and get it in their trailer. I don’t think anything got ruined, but I felt so bad for them because we were all getting drowned,” Andi says with a chuckle.
On another occasion, a family came to speak and perform with a number of adopted children, some of different nationalities. As the parents were musical, they had taught the kids how to play different musical instruments.
“There were, I want to say, 10 of them,” Andi says. “It was one of the best groups ever. And then they said the grandma was going to talk, and I thought, ‘The grandma? What kind of talk would you think she would have?’ Well, it was one of our best meetings. She had a great talk. That was really a good one.”
In addition to the Victorian dress, Andi encourages her guests to bring hats as much of the yard is open to sunlight. “Some people have brought umbrellas, but that’s kind of hard when you have people looking behind you on the same level toward the speaker and the program. It’s better if they just wear a hat. I’ve made a lot of Victorian hats, so I have some that people can borrow.”
They never run out of food for brunch, Andi adds, with 15 or more tables available for the guests. And after everyone has eaten, they are asked to pick their favorite outfits at each table. Those wearing the favorite outfits are then judged for the best dress and best hat, and the winners receive prizes. This tradition has been a big hit with the women at the tea.
“One year, we said bring your favorite teacup. Then that was kind of hard because some of them forgot them and I didn’t know who they belonged to. I think eventually everybody got their teacup back. We didn’t mean to keep them. One year, they said bring your favorite purse or pocketbook. Some ladies brought some interesting purses,” Andi says.
The Victorian Tea started out smaller with some trial and error and the first couple of years, but now it is usually attended by over 100 people.
“We decided, I think last year, that maybe we’d have one more because a lot of us are getting old, and it’s a lot of work, it really is,” Andi says. Nevertheless, she has certainly enjoyed hosting and joining the tea.
The July 16 Victorian Tea runs from 10 a.m. to noon. Carol Noble will be the speaker, and she and Kathi Perry will also sing. Guests are advised to arrive before 9:30 a.m. to find a place to park. Get reservations in early!