Blue Mountain Horse Head Inn from Sarah’s house to Retro Motor Inn.
Travelers to Monticello looking for a clean place to rest a weary head have been stepping onto the front porch of Sarah Perkins house for the last 70 years and probably didn’t even know it. Originally a modest home on the main road through the little town of Monticello, the house has over time grown into a 26 room motor inn.
Candace and Jason Davis are the current owners of the property. The two have put a lot of time, effort and money into the latest update of the Blue Mountain Horse Head Inn. With a bright pallet of color and upgraded clean lines the options available to the traveler run from a two room suite that could sleep a family of 6, to pet friendly king and queen rooms. This place is a super find for the budget conscious traveler.
When they took over operation of the inn, things were still being done by hand. Candace implemented a website front desk system that integrates with online bookings through the website and third party travel agents like Booking.com and Expedia. And she took the reins on the revamp. She was hands on with the design and seeking out the materials needed to give the inn the look they were after.
“I had the curtains hand made by a woman on Etsy who sadly during the process was told she had cancer and strongly pushed through to finish the job for us.” Recalls Candace. “They are literally one of a kind.”
Candace drove the guys at the local True Value crazy trying to get the right color for repainting the doors to match the retro feel. “It took around 15 samples to create it. I call it Blurple.” And she kept her hand in all of the design phase. The furniture was her creation in collaboration with a furniture company she had located.
Originally the Blue Mountain Horse Head Inn was the last home of Sarah Williams Perkins. Sarah was the second polygamous wife of Ben Perkins, a Welsh miner, who along with his brother Hyrum, were credited with having the experience to handle the blasting of the gap that became known as The Hole in the Rock in 1879. Sarah and her sister Mary Anne were two of the women on what would become known as the Hole in the Rock Expedition.
Sarah’s house sat back from a dirt road that eventually became US 191. Time and eminent domain have widened that ribbon of asphalt to within about 25 feet of where Sarah sat on her front porch looking at the Abajo Mountains with acres and acres of farmland stretching toward Colorado behind her. .
Today what was the front porch is the lobby of the Blue Mountain Horse Head Inn. Back in the 40’s, before the road to Moab was paved, construction had already begun on converting the house to a lodging choice for those seeking out a place to stay the night.
Jason has been taking on the task of “Retro”-fitting the rooms and has put the down time from the recent Covid-19 battle to good use. He pulled what felt like a couple acres of carpet out of the rooms and replaced it with ceramic tile flooring giving the rooms a clean crisp feel. He has installed mid-century modern fixtures, bath basins and drapes, and work continues on updating the entire property to retro chic. The result is a series of bright comfortable rooms that on first sight makes you want to kick off your shoes, flop down on the big thick bed and be glad you found a nice place after a long day on the road.
The inn had gone through a number of ownership changes until about 2007 when Jason’s mother and stepfather took over the property. Jason had been working at the Lisbon Valley Copper mine but was looking for something a little more reliable. “My family made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.” Says Jason with a wry smile. Watch out for offers you can’t refuse Jason cautions, you might find yourself in a sea of carpet remnants holding on for dear life during the time of Covid 19.
“It has been a struggle. And the year looked like it was going to be a good one.” Jason said as Candace nodded in agreement. They were hoping to have most of the renovations done before the season kicked in full throttle. But with occupancy still way down from previous years the pair are working hard to keep it all together.
Jason and Candace still have enough spirit to pitch in for the community. During the first few weeks of the epidemic, when mushrooming case numbers made emergency management personnel and local health officials worry about what a pandemic could do to the number of available hospital beds. The couple stepped forward responding to a call from San Juan County asking for local motels to set aside rooms should the need arise for quarantine space.
“It was just the right thing to do.” Said Candace.
She then pointed out that her relationship with the EMS personnel in the area is pretty close. Her right hand “woman” Christina Burgess is an EMS volunteer and married to one of the full time EMS people in the county. They all get the importance of keeping safe during the times we are going through.
Sarah Perkins survived Hole in the Rock, polygamy, the First World War, the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, and the great depression. She passed away in Monticello in 1943 and rests in the town cemetery. Sarah’s house, hidden just behind the front desk of the Blue Mountain Horse Head Inn has survived it all and has become an even better value for the traveler to San Juan County .