In December 2010 our friends Dave & Lynn made a proposal that changed our lives.
The occasion was the monthly “Africa Movie Night”. This was a gathering of four couples who were all part of a group from our church that went on a three-week mission trip to the Congo in Africa during the summer of 2008. Since that trip, the four couples (Dave & Lynn, Steve & Jeanie, Randy & Elise and Redgie & myself) had gotten together once per month to share a meal and watch a movie, usually held at one of our homes. The evening usually had a “theme” based upon the movie and the movie was never announced in advance. (We took turns choosing the movie each month.) It was always a lot of fun to try to guess the movie based upon the food chosen for the menu and any other hints that might have been dropped. In the year and a half since the mission trip, the four couples had grown close and really enjoyed the times that we spent together.
On this particular evening, we had finished our dinner when Dave said he’d like to make a proposal before we went downstairs to watch the movie. He reminded us that he & Lynn had been considering buying a new home and that they had been looking at properties off & on for the past few months. Dave told us that they had found a unique property that was on the market. The “story” was that this house was built for a Denver Nuggets player that had never taken possession and was now bank-owned. It had been on the market for several years without a buyer and the bank was dropping the price dramatically each month in order to sell it and get it off their hands.
Dave & Lynn said they liked the house except for one thing…..it was TOO LARGE for just one couple! (The house was over 25,000 square feet!!) Dave said that he had always thought how great it would be to have a living situation where they could grow old with their friends around them, and was proposing that we consider the possibility of living in the house with them. We could rent our own homes and move into the new house all together, forming an “intentional community”. Our commitment would be for one year initially, and then we would re-evaluate to see how everyone felt about the living arrangements.
Dave made an appointment with his realtor to show the property to the rest of us a few days later.
When we arrived, I realized that Redgie & I had seen this house before. A few years earlier we were on our way to visit some friends who had built a new house in Parker, CO and happened to drive past this house on our way there. it stood out because it was so big we thought it might have been a hotel! We took a detour into the community to take a look and realized it was not a hotel but a (very large) house that was unoccupied. We drove into the driveway and peeked into the windows, marveling at the size and beauty of the rooms that we could see. Now we were going to have an opportunity to see the inside of this amazing house!
From the front of the house we could see three large garage doors which we later learned led into a 6-car garage complete with built-in cabinets all across the back of the garage. There are also two covered patios visible from the front of the house and across the back of the house was another large covered patio (see photo above.) Inside the tall front door was a gorgeous entry with two curved staircases that led to the upstairs level. The house has eight bedrooms, each with its own ensuite bathroom. There are an additional three powder bathrooms (two on the main level and one in the basement.) There are nine fireplaces!
There is a large kitchen & hearth room on the main level, along with a formal living room, formal dining room and great room. (The square footage of the great room alone is larger than the house that we lived in when we lived on the Retreat in Winchester!) In the basement is the “rec” room with wet bar (with all appliances of a full kitchen except for a cooktop.) There is a theater that seats eighteen people, and a small “cigar” room that we decided would make a good a craft room.
In addition to all that I have already described, there is a gymnasium and a “spa” on the ground level! In the gym there is a basketball court and an area that could be set up as an exercise area with equipment and weight systems. In the “spa” there is a sauna, steam shower & bathroom.
Needless to say we were all awed by the size of the property! It was so much fun to explore because around every corner was another surprise! “This is our room!” was heard each time a new bedroom was discovered! We all agreed the most appropriate name for this property was the “Big Big House” (sung to the tune of the same name by the group Audio Adrenaline) or “BBH” for short.
The thought of joining this intentional community and living in the house together was a very intriguing proposition! For Redgie and I the timing was perfect! Our youngest child was going to be graduating from high school the next May and then going off to college in the fall. Since I have had children at home since I was 20 years old I was dreading the “empty nest” after he left and especially since Redgie traveled so much for his job. Being part of this intentional community would help me through that transition.
After much prayer and consideration, Redgie and I decided to join the adventure for at least one year and gave our commitment to Dave & Lynn. They purchased the BBH in January 2011 and plans were made to move in the following May. (Since the property had sat empty for 5 years since it was built, there was some finishing work that needed to be done as well as some repairs for water leaks that were discovered after the water was turned on. Additionally, the very long driveway had disintegrated over the years and was going to be replaced with a beautiful brick paver driveway.)
Unfortunately, for their own specific reasons the other two couples decided they could not join the community at this particular time. So the initial community consisted of just the two couples: Dave & Lynn and Redgie & Val.
This is the first chapter of our story: How our intentional community came to be. Stay tuned for more posts about Life in the BBH!
Below is a video of some photos of the BBH before we moved in: