Built in 1902 in what was then western Adams County, the Westlake School on Lowell Boulevard in Broomfield educated students at a variety of levels until its final closure in 1990. Now in Broomfield County, the school building was a private residence for fifteen years. It has been zoned for a variety of commercial and cultural uses and is being sold for potential development.
The area that is now Broomfield originally had three elementary schools. The Broomfield School, probably built in the 1880s, served students from Boulder County, and the Dry Creek (Lorraine) School, built in 1885, served students from northern Jefferson County.
The Westlake School served students from western Adams County. The first Westlake School building was a wood frame structure likely built in the 1880s to educate children from local farm families. In 1902 the current brick building opened on the same site. The one-story building with a garden-level basement originally had a coal furnace and two outhouses. At some point the building was remodeled to accommodate four classrooms on the main floor plus another classroom, a kitchen, and a gym in the basement. In 1950 a rear addition provided the school with indoor bathrooms.
The Westlake School housed first through eighth grades and started with forty-eight students. One teacher taught all grades at a salary of $50 per month. Graduates generally went on to high school in Lafayette. Like many rural schools, Westlake also served as an informal community center used for weddings, dances, bazaars, holiday celebrations, and other local events.
In the 1930s, Westlake became one of the first rural schools in the area to have a hot lunch program. The program was started by the Browns, who jointly taught at the school and lived in the basement. The couple supervised the program with the help of mothers who volunteered. By the early 1940s, the program had evolved to the point where the school hired a cook for $3 per day.
In 1950 the Westlake school district combined with several others to form Adams County School District 12. The Westlake School closed two years later because it had too few fire exits, then reopened the next year to accommodate the school district’s rapidly growing student population. It served as the district’s middle school for the next twenty years. In 1974 the building became the district’s alternative high school and from 1985 to 1990 the building served as a preschool.
Private Residence and Potential Memory Care Facility
After 1990, the Westlake School sat empty for several years. In 1994 it was bought for use as a private residence and listed on the State Register of Historic Properties.
Several other uses for the building and its 2.3-acre lot have been explored in the past twenty years. In 1998 the Broomfield City Council approved the lot for a variety of uses, including day care, Montessori school, restaurant, antique store, medical office, fine arts center, religious institution, and veterinary clinic. At the time, the building was being considered for a private events center, but nothing immediately came of that plan or the zoning change. In 2008 the Westgate Community School briefly considered leasing the Westlake building but decided not to move there because the building would have required expensive construction to accommodate the school’s 120 students.
In 2009 the building made headlines when the couple who had lived there since 1994 died in a double homicide. The husband fatally shot his wife in the building one night, then was shot and killed there by the Broomfield police a few minutes after refusing to surrender his gun.
In 2013 Azura Memory Care received Broomfield City Council approval for a plan to develop a 31,000-square-foot memory care facility incorporating the existing Westlake School building at the site. Again, nothing came of the plan. As of August 2015, the building was listed for lease as potential office space and also for sale as an investment or development opportunity.