[Montrose, Colo. | February 2020 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Marilyn Cox]
“Browse, touch, feel, fall in love!” stressed Glee Westcott of Tiffany, Etc., at 439 Main Street, downtown Montrose. Westcott feels there’s no comparison between browsing the internet and browsing in person. “You’ll find everything from home décor to greeting cards, art, and jewelry, and now, the latest in women’s clothing.”
Since 1998, Westcott has made the quaint, original 1891 Lathrop Hardware Building in the heart of historic downtown Montrose her very own. Full of warmth, beauty, and originality, the eclectic atmosphere welcomes old and new friends who are intrigued the moment they enter the front door.
Glee Stevens Westcott moved to Montrose in 1980 with two young daughters to support. She and her father, grandfather, and grandmother were all Grand Junction natives. Westcott had always loved Montrose and knew it would be a perfect new home.
When she and her former husband lived in Steamboat Springs for seven years, they often drove to Telluride to visit his family. On one of their visits, Westcott met Scott Brown, who had learned what she termed the “lost art” of stained glass work from his father, a creator of church windows. She so admired Brown’s work—the color, the way the glass caught the light, the beauty of how the pieces fit together—that she knew it was what she wanted to do. She knew in her heart that if she had the chance, she could learn how.
She bought one of Brown’s lampshades; he gave her a bucket of scrap glass. She couldn’t wait to get home, making her kitchen table her workshop. Her only tool was a glass cutter, but she and her father fashioned a glass grinder in order for her to do the more intricate work.
Steamboat Springs was an emerging ski area at that time—just the opportunity Westcott needed. She told herself, “I love doing this, so I’m going to be in business!”
Taking a prototype in hand to the ski area, she immediately sold six of her newly fashioned stained glass shades. She had money to buy more glass and—yes! She had created her own business!
It was great timing. No one was doing stained glass in that area at that time. Westcott was then commissioned to do stained glass windows for area churches, restaurants, and homes. Recently, the Hayden Congregational Church in Hayden, Colorado, celebrated 125 years, and Westcott not only attended but was a part of their celebration by being honored for her work on the windows of the church.
When her husband was transferred to Gallup, New Mexico, Westcott continued to do stained glass there. Four years later found her and her girls, Kelle and Cristen, in Montrose, a single mom needing a real job.
She was fortunate to be hired at Flairmont Furniture, where she earned $4.35 an hour as well as receiving valuable business savvy from Ed DeJulio. She went on to do drafting for Teng and Associates and Landline Surveying Company, where everything was lettered by hand. “I did the artistic work—not the math,” said Westcott.
She made room on the back porch of her then-home on North Second Street to create a workshop for her glass business and started giving lessons. She blended her stained glass work with the homey look of artful antiques, growing the enterprise by leaps and bounds and moving to several downtown locations before buying the Lathrop Building, where she could work on glass in the back and have retail (home furnishings and décor) in the front.
She did a major restoration/preservation of the building in 2005, setting a great example for other owners of historic structures. “There are so many historic buildings in our downtown that would lend themselves beautifully as retail outlets. I would like to see more of that in the future of Montrose,” stated Westcott.
She married Joe Westcott in 1986. For years, Joe worked for large ranches in the area—the Sleeping Indian, Double RL, and Black Canyon Ranch, becoming an expert horseman and trainer.
“Twenty-one years ago, I was doing some stained glass repair for the people who lived in the old Bond place, historically known as the main house of Pepper’s Gardens in Coal Creek,” explained Westcott. “I learned that the owners wanted to sell, and we were able to buy it one piece at a time in order to put our training facility together. We are only the fourth family to live in the house.” Being able to refurbish the historic home will always be one of her goals.
Both of Westcott’s daughters and their families live in Montrose and have careers of their own, following in their mother’s footsteps. She has two stepdaughters, as well, and eight grandchildren.
Owning the Lathrop Building and continuing the entrepreneurial legacy of 120 years ago has always been one of Westcott’s greatest joys!