A Longmont legacy came to an end last week after 27 years of business, but the stories guests have swapped at Ellen’s Bed & Breakfast are likely to live on for generations.
Outside the business at 700 Kimbark Street, a sale sign stuck out of the lawn Friday — not far from a sign that read, “Ellen’s Bed, Bath and Begone,” that has long greeted guests, giving them a hint about the sense of humor of owners Ellen and Baldwin “Baldy” Ranson. The couple, now in their 80s, said it was age that drove them to close the long-standing Longmont bed and breakfast, which Ellen Ranson said is the only B & B in Longmont.
“I’m getting tired of climbing up and down those steps,” Ellen Ranson said.
She added though, “I’m going to miss doing it. It’s been a real adventure. We have loved Longmont.”
The two-story home, built in 1906, has two spare rooms that the couple used as guest rooms. The home is full of memorabilia and trinkets from their world travels: a red, dragon-shaped doorbell from Indonesia stuck to a mini fridge, an intricately framed mirror from Morocco and a stack of “do not disturb” signs stolen from all over the world and a similarly inspired condom collection stored in a white box. Any guest who has stayed there, though, was likely to say the most interesting thing about the bed and breakfast was its owners. A person needs only to ask how Ellen and Baldwin met to get a sense of the couple’s character.
“We met through a newspaper ad in a singles’ newspaper. This was before the internet,” Ellen Ranson said. “His wife had died. I was divorced. He put an ad in the paper and 27 women answered it. The first date we had I said, ‘Do you do drugs and are you solvent?’”
Today, Ellen and Baldwin Ranson have been married for 37 years.
Finally settling down in Colorado, after living in Bulgaria where Baldwin was a dean of academics at a university, Ellen Ranson said it was a love for people that inspired her to want to open a bed and breakfast in Longmont 27 years ago.
“When I told Baldy I wanted to open a bed and breakfast, he fell to the floor,” Ellen Ranson said, though, Baldwin said he remembers it differently.
“I thought it was a good idea,” Baldwin Ranson said. “The kids had left home and there was (empty space). She says I was horrified; I was just a little taken aback.”
In the 27 years that they were open, Ellen Ranson said the bed and breakfast was usually booked 160 days out of the year. When rooms weren’t reserved, the couple used the free time to travel. Guests who stayed at the bed and breakfast were sure to hear stories of Ellen and Baldwin’s travels and be treated to a homemade “high cholesterol” breakfast. Ellen Ranson said travelers from all over the world flocked to the bed and breakfast. While the coronavirus pandemic led to some business cancellations, Ellen Ranson said it played no part in their decision to close the business.
While many people felt at home at 700 Kimbark St., Baldwin Ranson said not every person was used to the intimate setting.
“There were only two families that said, ‘This is too personal, I can’t handle it,’” Baldwin Ranson said, “but most people loved it.”
When she wasn’t helping to run their bed and breakfast, Ellen Ranson acted, including in some Indie films and commercials. She now acts for a group called Silver Circuit, a duo that provides entertainment for seniors in the form of acting and singing ’50s and ’60s Broadway show tunes.
After they leave, Ellen Ranson said she hopes to see someone use the home to continue its legacy as a bed and breakfast.
“Longmont is a population of 92,000 people; somebody ought to buy this property and open a bed and breakfast,” Ellen Ranson said. “This is such a neat house. People used to say, ‘Ellen, every wall in this house tells a story.’”
Part of that storied history is a globe that sits in the living room and is marked with pins, indicating all the places the couple has lived and visited. They’ve been to Egypt to see the pyramids and pored over red and blue hieroglyphs, witnessed the cherry blossoms blooming in Japan and visited a Bulgarian store that curiously sold only cabbage and tires. Ellen Ranson said they’re not done traveling yet and have plans to eventually go to France and visit the Eiffel Tower.
First though, the couple is preparing to move to a retirement center in Denver next month.
“They better be ready for me,” Ellen Ranson said.