January 18th, 2021

The brief history of The Inn Purple

By Submitted Article on March 3, 2020.

By Bobbie Fox

The Inn Purple was a young-adult coffee house that was open from 1967 to 1968 in Lethbridge. It was a place where teens and young adults could go to hang out, listen to music and dance without drugs, alcohol or their parents.

The St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church youth group ran the Inn Purple but the facility was non-denominational. The idea for the coffee house was born out of the desire of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church youth group to find a way to “… uphold new approaches and experiments in establishing communication with youth.”

The group selected a location, recruited volunteers, gathered supplies and opened the doors to the Inn Purple in July 1967. The facility featured a jukebox, table tennis and board games. Groups could rent out the venue for a small fee. Besides live music, dancing and poetry readings, the Inn Purple also held occasional church services. >The stage of the Inn Purple hosted many local talents, like Cheri Thompson or Dale Ketcheson. These performers filled the coffee house with songs and poems.

The most iconic person to perform at the Inn Purple was certainly Gordon Lightfoot. While in Lethbridge for a concert at the Yates Theatre in September 1967, he learned of the little coffee house and visited them.

Even with the modest admission fee, a $1 membership, a concession and a memorial fund, the Inn Purple was not able to generate enough income to stay open. In June 1968, the Inn Purple committee held an auction to keep the doors open. By mid-September 1968, the coffers were empty and the Inn Purple closed.

Visit the Inn Purple exhibit at the Galt Museum & Archives, on display until Aug. 3, 2020.

Your old photos, documents, and artifacts might have historical value. Please contact Galt Museum & Archives for advice before destroying them.

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