Our History

OUR ROOTS IN COLORADO

Seventh-day Adventists have a long history in the state of Colorado—particularly in Boulder—where they have made a distinct imprint on the culture. The iconic Mount Sanitas is named for the Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium and Hospital which was originally located at the base of the mountain. The Seventh-day Adventist lifestyle, known for its emphasis on healthful and holistic living, has always been a good match for the outdoorsy and healthy culture of Boulder.

Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium and Hospital

It is no wonder that Boulder is recognized as one of the healthiest cities in America. In 1896, just 20 years after Boulder became part of the State of Colorado, the Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium and Hospital was built at 4th and Mapleton, at the foot of the mountain we now call Mount Sanitas.  

Thanks in great part to the vision of Adventist church co-founder Ellen White, the expertise of John Harvey Kellogg, M.D., and the direction of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the sanitarium and hospital became widely known as an excellent place for healing the mind, body, and spirit. Dr. Kellogg prescribed vegetarian meals, natural remedies, and exercise in the fresh mountain air. The Colorado Sanitarium Food Company, right on the hospital grounds, made Kellogg’s signature corn flakes, granola, and peanut butter, and included those healthful food items in its healing diets.  

The sanitarium advertised its completed trail to the top of Mount Sanitas in 1902 in one of its brochures, and recommended climbing the mountain for health benefits. The original buildings of the sanitarium and hospital underwent many transformations over the years, becoming Boulder Memorial Hospital in the 1950s—still operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In the 1970s, the hospital was sold to Boulder Community Hospital and Memorial Hospital relocated to Louisville as Avista Adventist Hospital. Until that time, many of the historic homes on Mapleton Hill were owned by Memorial Hospital and its many staff members.

Seventh-day Adventists still aim to incorporate some of the same health principles advocated by Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium and Hospital into their lifestyles. Among them are fresh air, sleep, exercise, healthful eating—with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts, avoidance of harmful substances such as tobacco and alcohol, and trust in God as part of a faith community.

Boulder Seventh-day Adventist Church

The first Seventh-day Adventist family came to Boulder in 1871. In 1879, a church was organized at the home of Henry Pierce at 905 Arapahoe. The first Seventh-day Adventist church building in Colorado was constructed a year later at the southeast corner of Broadway & Mapleton. The congregation moved to a brick structure at 7th and Highland in 1898. The present church (built in 1948) is located on the southeast corner the original Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium and Hospital property. The ceremony for laying the cornerstone in August 1950 was attended by several hundred people. The sanctuary, remodeled in the 1970s, is still valued by musicians today as a premier performance venue, due to the favorable acoustics. Although observing the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) marks a difference from most mainline churches, the Seventh-day Adventist church shares beliefs similar to other Christian churches, including The Trinity, the Bible as the basis for its tenets, and the Golden Rule as established by Jesus Christ as a general guideline for good living. Love, compassion, acceptance, honesty, dependability—these are some of the attributes Seventh-day Adventists want to be best known for in their homes, workplaces, and communities.

Boulder Junior Academy

In order to provide both an excellent general and spiritual/religious education, early Boulder Seventh-day Adventists established a private school. Its first teacher was Florence Cornell. Early classes met in the basement of the church on Highland Avenue, but soon a private home was remodeled to house the growing Boulder Junior Academy at the corner of Portland Street and 9th Street. In 1954, the school moved to 4th Street, where it remained until 2004 when it changed its name to Vista Ridge Academy and relocated to Erie to make the school more accessible to students who attend from many surrounding foothills cities. The new facilities provide for advanced computer, science, music, fine arts, and sports classes, as well as an excellent space for our core academic programs.

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