People are drawn to Leavenworth because of its relaxed atmosphere, mountain setting, and Bavarian style architecture. Leavenworth really started to blossom in the 60’s. In 1960, a project was started called LIFE, or Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone. LIFE studied all aspects of life in Leavenworth including youth groups, churches, agriculture, economy, and tourism. That same year, Ted Price, the head of the LIFE study, and Bob Rodgers bought Coles Corner (now the Squirrel Tree Inn). Price thought that Leavenworth’s Alpine Mountain setting could lend itself well to Swiss Bavarian architecture, to draw in tourists. They remodeled Coles Corner using a Swiss Bavarian style.
Lavern Peterson then purchased the Chickamin Hotel, (now the Edelweiss Hotel) and remodeled it using the Bavarian style. Owen and Pauline Watson bought and remodeled an empty building on Front Street (Alpen Haus) and started an electrician shop. From here, local merchants called a town meeting and decided to remodel most of the buildings in the Swiss Bavarian style. Project Alpine was started and the economy started growing rapidly. Leavenworth earned the first place award and $10,000 from the Sears Foundation Community Improvement Program for the creation of the Bavarian Village.
To help with Project Alpine, German-born architect Heinz Ulbricht moved to Leavenworth to lend his expertise to the design of the remodeled buildings.
Buildings started transforming into the Bavarian theme. Hoelgaards Bakery, Susswaren Candy Shop and the Tannenbaum Building had been remodeled. Next came Larson's Drugstore (Village Pharmacy) and Vern Herritt's building, now Der Sportsmann and Hotel Europa.
Town holiday festivals started and soon became tradition bringing in visitors every year. In 1966 the first Art in the Park was organized by Archie Marlin Sr. and the first Christmas Lighting Festival was held as well. Years later the Leavenworth Maifest was started.
A year later in 1967, Look Magazine named the town the All-American City. Soon after, tourism really started to take off.
Today, over 1.2 million people visit Leavenworth every year. Drawn to the beautiful mountains, relaxed lifestyle, and of course, the Bavarian feel.
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