The Johnstown, Colorado Sugar Beet Facility

If you have read my About Me page, you know I collect vintage images of Fort Collins and the surrounding area. The one place I go somewhat farther afield is with sugar beet photographs. I admit to a love affair with images of anything sugar beet related. In this area, I go beyond Larimer County and collect images of the 13 sugar beet facilities that are classified as Northern Colorado factories. I’ve shared images from three of these locations in the past, Fort Collins and Loveland, in separate posts on their sugar beet factories, and Windsor, CO, as part of a post on the town. (I’ve placed links to these posts at the end of this article.) In this post, I’m going to share my images of the Johnstown, CO facility.

Much of the information on the Johnstown facility comes from Footprints in the Sugar: A History of the Great Western Sugar Company, a behemoth of a book by Candy Hamilton.

In 1901, the Loveland sugar beet processing factory opened and many farmers, including those in Johnstown, were growing sugar beets. In the fall, beets had to be harvested, loaded into wagons, and transported to beet dumps for transfer to rail cars. Below are some photographs of the process in Johnstown, CO.

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Drawing Beets, Johnstown, Colo. Postmarked 1908. (Photographer Unknown)

The note on the back of the postcard identifies the driver of the wagon, “Harry, this will look natural to you. It is Ed Miller driving one of Will Purvis’s teams.” Maybe someone out there will recognize these names.

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Beets Arriving in Town, Johnstown, Colo. Postmarked 1909. (Photographer Unknown)

Every small town in Northern Colorado made postcards like this one, with groups of wagons, filled with sugar beets, coming to the local beet processing plant or to a rail siding to transfer their beets to rail cars. Below is a close-up of the crowd.

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Beets Arriving in Town, Johnstown, Colo. Close-Up
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Beet Dump, Johnstown, Colo, Postmarked 1909. (Photographer Unknown)

This is a great example of an early beet dump. I used it in an earlier post on beet dumps. The link to that post is shown below:

The Sugar Beet Dump

By 1910, sugar beet processing plants were going up all around Northern Colorado. Johnstown, despite its small population of around 200 people, wanted its own plant. Milliken, an even smaller town a few miles east of Johnstown, offered to assist in the effort. It took a while and a great deal of effort but on May 6, 1920, the Great Western Sugar Company (GWS) announced its intention to build a sugar beet factory between Johnstown and Milliken. Plans were drawn up and the plant was expected to be ready for the 1921 harvest. But, in late 1920, just months after construction started on the plant, the world sugar market collapsed, and work on the facility was halted.

GWS used the time wisely. Sugar beet possessors were struggling with the problem of what to do with discard molasses, the syrup that remains after the beets were processed. While sugar remained in the molasses, it couldn’t be economically extracted. Instead, the byproduct was sold for pennies as livestock feed. GWS was determined to use this time to find a way to successfully extract the sugar from the molasses.

GWS sent a team to Germany and France to study how they were handling molasses. The team returned with an idea and a plan that would use the unfinished Johnstown plant to process the molasses from all their sugar beet factories. New plans were drawn up, construction re-started, and the new Johnstown Molasses Desugarizing plant was operating in October 1926.

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Johnstown Molasses Desugarizing Plant, October 25, 1926. (Photographer Unknown)

This image was made just prior to the plant’s grand opening. It ran in a newspaper with this caption:

Biggest of Its Kind in World – Million-dollar sugar beet molasses desugarizing plant erected at Johnstown, Colo., by the Great Western Sugar company, which will be formally dedicated Thursday, Oct. 28. This is the largest plant of its kind in the world and will add much to the prosperity of northern Colorado. The public is invited to attend the dedication.

On opening day, 4,000 visitors toured the plant. German sugar technologists visited the plant in 1928 writing, “What we have seen at Johnstown really astonished us.” The small community of Johnstown was now home to one of the most unique sugar plants in the world.

The Johnstown facility stayed relatively stable until April 1953, when GWS decided to build a monosodium glutamate (MSG) plant adjacent to the sugar facility. MSG had become an important flavor enhancer for many food products. Construction was quickly underway.

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Construction of MSG Plant in Johnstown, CO, January 1, 1954. (Photographer Unknown)

This was another newspaper photograph printed on January 1, 1954 with the caption:

Under construction currently at Johnstown is this monosodium glutamate factory of the Great Western Sugar Co. When completed in October 1954, it will employ some 120 workers.

An imposing four-story structure, the new MSG plant opened in November 1954.

About the same time Johnstown’s MSG plant opened, the Fort Collins sugar beet factory closed. Sugar beets were beginning to run into hard times. One-by-one the Northern Colorado sugar plants closed. In 1977, the Johnstown plants heard the news of their closure.

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Johnstown Workers Discuss News of Closing, January 4, 1977. (Photographer John Sunderland)

This photograph was from the Denver Post and ran in the newspaper on January 5, 1977 with a short caption: “Mike Evans, left, and Ernie Anderson discuss plant closings. Both will lose their jobs as mechanics when Johnstown facility shuts down.”

According to Footprints in the Sugar, both the molasses and MSG plants were closed. The plants sat idle until 1983 when Adolph Coors Co. bought the facility. Coors ran parts of the plant, under several different names, until it sold the facility to Colorado Sweet Gold (CSG), in February 1991. CSG used the plant to make cornstarch and related products. On August 3, 2001, CSG closed the plant and auctioned off much of the equipment. In 2005, many of the buildings were torn down.

CSG apparently still owns the property, their sign is still on the entrance, though I couldn’t find what it is being used for today, if anything. Below are two “now” photographs of the site, located on State Highway 60, between Johnstown and Milliken.

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Colorado Sweet Gold, Johnstown, CO, September 2019. View from East Side. (Photographer M. E. McNeill)
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Colorado Sweet Gold, Johnstown, CO, September 2019. View from West Side. (Photographer M. E. McNeill)

Below are the links to my earlier posts on the Fort Collins, Loveland, and Windsor sugar beet plants.

The Fort Collins Sugar Beet Factory: The Smell of Prosperity

The Loveland, Colorado Sugar Beet Factory

Images of Early Windsor, Colorado – Part 1

Windsor Town Link


The Fort Collins Masonic Temple

Masons have been active in Fort Collins since 1870. Over the years, Collins Lodge 19 grew and moved to larger quarters all shared with other organizations or businesses. In 1921, the Masons, now 600 strong, felt they could afford a freestanding temple. A committee quickly purchased a lot on the southeast corner of Howes and West Oak Streets and began planning their building.

They chose William N. Bowman, a well-known Denver, Colorado architect, to design the temple. Bowman had designed major buildings across the state, including the Weld and Jackson County Courthouses. The building design was an example of Classic Revival architecture well suited for the traditions of a Masonic temple. On October 14, 1925, the cornerstone was laid, with about 125 Masons in attendance.

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Cornerstone of the Fort Collins Masonic Temple. (M. E. McNeill, September 2, 2019)

Mark Miller, an early and long-time Fort Collins photographer was hired to take photographs of the construction process. The Fort Collins Archive has the photographs, including the one shown below that they allowed Barbara Fleming and me to use in our book Fort Collins: The Miller Photographs.

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Construction of the Fort Collins Masonic Temple by Mark Miller, February 1, 1926. (Fort Collins Archive, H15899)

The photograph shows a partially completed building, with materials being delivered by horse and wagon. The building took a while to construct and furnish, and it wasn’t until June 29, 1927 that the new temple was complete and opened to the public for the first time.

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Close-up of the Masonic Temple Fort Collins Colorado, 1929.

The postcard is dated June 10, 1929, on the back. It seems that the temple must be decorated for the 1929 July 4th celebration. The unusual circle on the left side of the building seems not to be a part of the decorations but rather some artifact from the developing and printing of the postcard.

On February 28, 2008, the Fort Collins Masonic Temple was added to the Colorado Registry of Historic Properties. The required nomination form describes the 77 by 103-foot building in detail. Below is the paragraph that describes the front entryway.

The most prominent facade feature is the shallow central portico formed by six two-story tall Tuscan columns supporting a pediment. Leading up to the entry are three flights of stairs of three, five and seven steps with metal balustrades. This numeric step pattern represents Masonic symbolism. Within the portico, the entrance consists of three double doors each surmounted by a transom and pediment. Aligned above the entries are three tall narrow lattice windows with transoms. The portico frieze contains the inscription “MASONIC TEMPLE.” The tympanum contains a circular engraving of the Masonic crest–the compass, capital “G” and carpenter’s square.”

Here is a recent photograph that shows the step pattern and a closer view of the columns.

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Front Portico of the Fort Collins Masonic Temple, 2019. (M. E. McNeill)

Tuscan columns are simple, unfluted shafts, with simple circular bases and capitals, with little or no carvings or ornaments. Considered strong and masculine, Tuscan columns originally were used for utilitarian and military buildings.

Below are two more images of the Fort Collins Masonic Temple, one from around 1953 and one from 2010.

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Fort Collins Masonic Temple, postmarked 1953. (Photographer Unknown)
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Fort Collins Masonic Temple, January 1, 2010. (Photograph by M. E. McNeill)

The nomination form also mentions that the alterations to the building, over its life have been minor. That is borne out by the 2010 photograph of the structure. The building is still in use by the Masons, though it is now surrounded by commercial buildings, such as the First National Tower on the left, rather than homes.

A 1901 Trip from Laramie, WY to Fort Collins, CO

How did a family travel to Fort Collins in 1901? Here are two pictures that can show us.

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Family and Horse and Wagon, Laramie, WY, 1901 (4 ¼” x 3 ½” photo)

This is probably a family photograph taken at the start of a trip from Laramie to Fort Collins. The caption on the back reads, “Ready for the start. Wagon trip from Laramie, Wyo. To Fort Collins, Colo. – Summer, 1901.”

It looks like a family of eight beginning their trip south to Fort Collins. Here’s a close-up of the family.

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Family of Eight Loading Up in Laramie, 1901

The distance from Laramie to Fort Collins is about 65 miles. A two-horse wagon might have traveled 20-miles, at best, over the kind of roads between Wyoming and Colorado in 1901. That means this family faced at least a three-day trip. (If someone has a better estimate of the time between the two towns in a horse and wagon, I’d love to hear it.)

But we know from a second photograph that they probably made it. Here it is:

Larimie to Fort Collins 1901 Horses in Poudre

The caption on the back of this photograph, in the same handwriting as the other photograph, reads, “Our trusty team. On the way to Fort Collins, Colo. – Summer, 1901.

I’m not sure where this photograph was taken on the Poudre River but, by the width of the river and the size of the bridge, I’d guess it was close to Fort Collins.

How times have changed. Today we wouldn’t think twice about going to Laramie for lunch.

Jefferson Street, Fort Collins, 1887

Below is a great photograph of Jefferson Street, in Fort Collins, CO, apparently made in 1887.

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Jefferson Street, Fort Collins, 1887. (Cabinet Card, 8 ½” x 5 ¼” By David Lamon)

The image is taken from the intersection of Jefferson and Linden Street, shooting northwest up Jefferson Street towards College Avenue. The building on the right is the Tedmon House, one of the premier early hotels of Fort Collins. The Tedmon House, located on the northwest corner of the Linden/Jefferson intersection, opened in April 1880 and was torn down in 1910, along with many other buildings, to make way for a railroad expansion.

Here is a close-up of the Tedmon House.

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Tedmon House, 1887.

This image was taken by David Lamon, a Denver photographer, and, a handwritten note on the reverse side, indicates it was taken in 1887. That date certainly falls in the life span of the Tedmon House, but we might be able to get closer by investigating the City Drug Store that occupied the near end of the Tedmon House when this photograph was taken.

Frank P. Stover’s City Drug Store moved around the Linden/Jefferson intersection, occupying three different corners until he sold it in 1919.

  • City Drug Store opened in 1873 in Old Grout, on the southwest corner of the Linden/Jefferson intersection. Old Grout was one of the early buildings of Fort Collins, built in 1866. At different times, Old Grout served as a warehouse, housed church services, was used as the county courthouse, and was home to City Drug.
  • In 1874, City Drug moved across Linden Street to the southeast corner of the intersection into the new Yount Bank Building.
  • In 1879, work began on the Tedmon House and, apparently, Stover decided it would help his business to become one of their keystone tenants. On April 1, 1880, The Fort Collins Courier ran a major article on Stover’s new City Drug Store, now located in the Tedmon House, saying it was “simply magnificent and worthy of a visit by every admirer of the artistic. Mr. Stover has succeeded in fitting up his rooms in a manner that not only reflects credit on himself but on the town also.” The northwest corner of the intersection was now home to City Drug.
  • In 1881 or 1882, Old Grout had been torn down and Stover had the chance to build his own building on the original location of City Drug. As early as July 1882, the local papers were reporting on the progress of his construction, called the Keystone Block, and predicting an October opening. But on the morning of September 19, 1882, just a few weeks before opening, the new building caught fire and burned to the ground. Apparently. Stover was able to renew his agreement with the Tedmon House and stayed there until late 1887 or early 1888.
  • On January 5, 1888, a newspaper article described a “lively party” in the room of the Tedmon House formerly occupied by City Drug Store. So, by this date, Stover was out of the Tedmon House. Stover finally had his own building for the City Drug Store and it was back on the southwest corner of Linden and Jefferson Streets, where it would stay until he sold the business in 1919.

This image must have been made prior to January 5, 1888, so the 1887 date written on the back of the photograph seems to be correct.

Below are two more enlargements. The first one is a close-up of the front of the Tedmon House, and the people lounging and working there.

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Front of the Tedmon House, 1887

Here we have six men and a dog. The two most interesting things to me are the man spraying Jefferson Street, I suppose to keep the dust down, and the mortar and pestle mounted on the pole on the right side of the image. Mortars and pestles were traditionally used in pharmacies to crush various ingredients prior to preparing a prescription. The mortar and pestle is one of the most pervasive symbols of pharmacology, and was probably installed by Stover to mark his drug store.

The last image is a close-up of the other side of Jefferson Street, in 1887.

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“The Other Side of the Street,” Jefferson Street, 1887

This side of the photograph isn’t as clear, but, on the original, I can make out the signage. Also, the Fort Collins Archive has identified the three buildings in the row.

The first building is the Courier Building, possibly home to the Fort Collins Courier at that time. You can see the “Harness Shop” sign on the front and the “Courier” and “Feed Store” signs on top. The second, or middle building, is the Vandewark Block. The sign in front of it reads “Vandewark & Gordon/Grain Flour Feeds/Agricultural Implements.” The last building in line, with no visible signs, is the Jefferson Block.

There seems to be an empty lot at the Linden Street end of the row of buildings. I’d guess that it was the location of Old Grout, the 1882 fire that destroyed the Keystone Building, and the eventual location of City Drug, when Stover left the Tedmon House.

I hope you enjoyed this look back at Jefferson Street in 1887.

Stop the Death Train and Senator John Kefalas

On March 18, 1983, eight people linked arms and knelt on the railroad tracks on Mason Street just north of Mulberry Street in peaceful protest of a white train said to be carrying nuclear weapons from Texas to a submarine base in Bangor, WA. They were probably wearing one of the buttons shown below.

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“Stop the Death Train” Pinback, 1983

These trains, used to move nuclear weapons from the 1950s to the 1980s, looked entirely ordinary, except for a few key details. They featured multiple heavily armored boxcars sandwiched in between “turret cars,” which protruded above the rest of the train. The turrets had slit windows through which armed DOE guards peered out, prepared to shoot to defend the train. Some guards had simple rifles, while others reportedly had automatic machine guns and hand-grenade launchers. The trains were highly resistant to attack and unauthorized entry, offered a high degree of cargo protection in event of fire or serious accident, and they were painted white.

When news of the 1983 white train spread through the county, “peace blockades” were established along the route. One online article said that as many as 450 cities and towns, along the route, were involved. In Fort Collins, the train came within feet of the eight protestors, who were dragged from the track and arrested by city police officers.

One of the protestors was John Kefalas, now a Colorado State Senator representing District 14.

Fort Collins and the Larimer County Fair

Fort Collins Images is back! After a 16 month hiatus, I’ve returned to share more vintage images of the Fort Collins, CO area, starting with this great 1889 advertising trade card for the Larimer County Fair.

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1889 Larimer County Fair Advertising Card (5 ¼” x 3 ¼”)

As near as I could find by searching the online Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection, the Larimer County Fair started in Fort Collins in 1880. It was run by the Larimer County Agricultural and Mechanical Association from 1880 through 1883, incurring over $4,000 in debt. To salvage the fair, the Larimer County Fair Association was re-organized in March 1884, funded by the sale of stock shares bought by “some of the most prominent farmers, horse men, cattle men, sheep men, fruit growers and manufacturers in the county, all of whom [were] successful and well-to-do business men.”

The Association quickly established a fairgrounds, approximately where Poudre Hospital is today, and began to expand the program and prizes to include horse racing, live stock competitions, and displays of agricultural and mechanical products. They decided to hold a fair in 1884 and renumbered it as the “First Annual Fair of Larimer County.”

It was a four-day fair, starting on September 24, 1884, and included some special contests like a five-dollar gold piece to the “prettiest baby under 15 months of age.” According to the October 2, 1884 Fort Collins Courier, the fair was a huge success, attracting almost 6,000 people over the four-day period.

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1889 Larimer County Fair Advertising Card Reverse Side

The Association ran the fair for a few years but after 1891, it seems to have stopped. A Fort Collins Courier article, dated December 16, 1897, reported that the Association had “passed out of existence” and that after paying all their bills, they “had $2.14 to divide among the stock holders.”

Organizers tried again in 1912, reviving the fair in Loveland where it continues to this day as an event at the Ranch, on I25 just north of Crossroads Boulevard.

I’ll share a few more early advertising trade cards, related to Fort Collins, in my next post.

The Munchkins Visit Fort Collins: The Commercial Bank & Trust Co

According to Ansel Watrous’ History of Larimer County, Colorado, the Commercial Bank & Trust Co. was established on May 23, 1906. Located at 146 North College Avenue, B. F. Clark was the first president. If we are to believe its 1914 letterhead, L. C. Moore was now the president and Munchkins were visiting our city. Below are scans of the full letterhead and an enlargement of their logo.

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Commercial Bank & Trust Letterhead, 1914.
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Commercial Bank Logo, 1914.

The Munchkins, the diminutive creatures in Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz were obviously in town for the day. If I’ve done the math correctly, the smartly dressed homunculi are approximately two-feet, three-inches tall, short even for normal Munchkins who were around four-feet tall in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie.

Why haven’t we heard of this visitation before? Was there a government cover-up?

Below is a Munchkin-less photograph I took of the Commercial Bank & Trust Co in 2009. At that time, the bar was called the Vault. Today, it is the High Point Bar.

The Commercial Bank & Trust Co. is a Fort Collins Landmark Building.

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Commercial Bank & Trust Co, 2009

The Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, Laporte, Colorado

In 1912, the Colorado Agricultural School (now CSU) established a department of Rural and Industrial Education. Their mission was to study rural education in the state, a state still sparsely populated with many rural school districts, and to recommend changes for rural schools on a state-wide basis. It didn’t take long for them to identify the major problems; small, weak, and inefficient district school organizations, untrained and inexperienced teachers, and inadequate school buildings and equipment. The solution was also plainly obvious to them – consolidation – and one of their earliest experiments was Larimer County and what would become the Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, in Laporte, Colorado.

On July 4, 1913, the cornerstone was laid for the new school. According to the Fort Collins Weekly Courier, over 300 people witnessed the “imposing ceremony.” Many luminaries spoke at the ceremony that the newspaper called “one of the broadest steps in education ever made in Northern Colorado.

One of the speakers was Charles A. Lory, President of CAC. He reminded the audience of college’s long-time effort in rural education, thanked a number of people who were involved in the school’s planning, and closed by telling the audience that “the college’s telephone system [was] connected at all times with the Laporte district and that all they had to do was to call the college and anything that institution could do to help would be done promptly and cheerfully.”

In October 1913, the Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, consolidating six small rural schools, opened for business with 181 students, from first grade through high school.

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Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, Laporte, CO, c. 1913.

In 1918, CAC released a report entitled, “Rural School Improvement in Colorado.” Around a dozen consolidated schools were reported on in detail, including the Cache La Poudre Consolidated School. According to the CAC report, the new school consolidated five rural school districts and parts of two adjoining districts. Six old buildings were abandoned and were replaced by “a beautiful structure of brick and stone, costing $30,000.” Here is how the school is described in the report:

“The basement story, all above ground, is made of Colorado red sandstone, quarried from the red cliffs within the district, while the two other stories of red pressed brick. There are about 15 rooms in the building. It is modern as to heating, lighting, and ventilation and has indoor toilets, and its drinking fountains are supplied with pure and cold mountain water. . . . Nine rooms are used for classroom work. The large school and community auditorium will seat 350 and the manual training teacher and his family live in five rooms on the ground floor.”

Below is the full-page image of the school, used in the report.

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Cache La Poudre Consolidated School, CAC Report, 1918.

Transportation was obviously as important to the school consolidation effort as the new schools. The new Laporte school used six wagons to move students around the consolidated district. The wagons were purchased from the Delphi Wagon Company in Indiana. One local writer said the wagons “were not unlike the wagons used . . . for conveyance of prisoners from one jail to another.” The wagons were fitted with side curtains to protect the students from weather. When the snow was high, the wheels were replaced with bobsleds to make sure students could attend school.

The report also featured three other views of the school, which, along with their captions, are reproduced below:

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As the county grew, so did the school system. Changes occurred to the consolidated school as reported in the history section of the Cache La Poudre Elementary School website. In 1949, the present day Cache La Poudre Middle School was built and called the Cache La Poudre High School. The consolidated school was then used for kindergarten through 9th grade. In 1964, Poudre High School was built and the old high school became the junior high school. Finally, in 1974, the original brick building was knocked down and the new Cache La Poudre Elementary School was built in its place.

100th Post: Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade

This is my 100th post on Fort Collins Images. I decided that the best way to mark my milestone was by sharing parade images from one of the biggest Fort Collins celebrations, the Semi-Centennial of 1914.

In 1914, Fort Collins reached its 50th birthday. They celebrated with a three day party, from Thursday, July 2, through Saturday, July 4. The Fort Collins Courier reported that to celebrate Fort Collins’ fiftieth anniversary “no expense has been too great and no task to stupendous for those in charge of the arrangements for the celebration and for the thousands which are expected to throng to Fort Collins to help her celebrate.” Each day there was a parade. I believe all of these images come from the Friday parade advertised as the “Grand free street parade covering the business district.”

I hope you’ll enjoy these images of one of Fort Collins largest events and that you will continue to support the Fort Collins Images blog.

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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller.  “Publish Glad Tidings.”
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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Buffalo Cart.
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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller.  Golden Rule Store.
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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Pony Cart.
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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. “Lambs fed in Northern Colorado during 1914 would make a train 30 miles long.”
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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. Boy riding steer.
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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. Nelson and Eaton Clothing bi-plane.
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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. First National Bank.
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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. “We will be pioneers fifty years from now.”
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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. Baptist’s “Send the Gospel to all Nations.”
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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Elks, Lodge 804.
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Fort Collins Semi-Centennial Parade, 1914. Photograph by Mark Miller. “Wisdom and folly wait on liberty.”

The L. R. Rhodes’ House and a Hint of Harold Lloyd

Ledru R. Rhodes came to Fort Collins in 1872 after being admitted to the bar in Iowa. He quickly gained a positive reputation as a lawyer, built a home, married a local girl, Elspeth “Eppie” Cowan, and in 1874, he was elected city attorney.

His home, built in 1873, was the third brick house built in Fort Collins, using bricks from a local kiln that had opened in 1870. It was located at 255 North College Avenue (probably where the parking lot just south of the Fort Collins building inspection offices are today). Below is a stereoview of the home taken by James Shipler and Milton Williamson, circa 1877.

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Rhodes’ House Stereoview, c. 1877. Photograph by Shipler and Williamson.
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Reverse Side of Rhodes’ House Stereoview.
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Right Side of Rhodes’ House Stereoview.

I wrote more about James Shipler in one of my earliest posts. You can see it by clicking here.

Rhodes was an interesting man. He became a top water rights lawyer and even successfully defended an accused murderer in the first murder trial in Larimer County. Rhodes also participated on a number of Fort Collins boards and committees and served a term as a state senator. But, I’m going to ignore Rhodes and discuss his house.

Rhodes sold the house in 1875 to the Trimble family and it was part of their estate until 1920. During this period, two interesting things occurred. First, in 1910, the first two brick homes built in Fort Collins were torn down to make room for the tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad. The Rhodes’ house became the oldest existing brick house in Fort Collins. The second possible event concerns Harold Lloyd, a silent movie icon.

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Harry Lloyd Movie Photo from “Safety Last,” 1923.

As I was researching this photograph, the Archive found a handwritten note from Evadine Swanson, an early Fort Collins historian. Swanson’s note said that Harold Lloyd’s family may have lived in the Rhodes’ house, when Lloyd was a child.  Since Lloyd was born in 1893, they might have lived here in the early 1900s.

Swanson apparently couldn’t verify the story and never included it in any of her published materials. Of course, Swanson didn’t have Google. A quick Google search found a Lloyd biography confirming that Lloyd’s family did live in Fort Collins for awhile, though where and when wasn’t mentioned. Apparently, Lloyd’s father had trouble holding down a job and the family lived in five cities in a short amount of time, including Fort Collins. Barbara Fleming is going to research the possibility further and we may read more about it in her Coloradoan column.

In 1920, the Trimble family sold the building to a man who operated a junk business. He used the house until 1957 and then the building moved through a number of hands. As time went on, the building changed dramatically. Below are two images of the Rhodes’ house from the Fort Collins Archive, one undated and the other dated June 1964.

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Rhodes’ House, Undated. Fort Collins Archive, H01434.
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Rhodes’ House, June 1964. Fort Collins Archive, H11699.

Many changes have been made in the building; the most obvious is that the left side of the structure is gone and a front porch has been added on the right side.

In 1990, a developer owned the building and was going to tear the house down. Carol Tunner, a local historic preservationist, tried to get the city to buy the property and restore the house. It was an uphill fight.

According to Tunner, the house didn’t look anything like the picture at the top of this post. She said that by 1990, the house was drastically altered, abandoned, and the property had become a junk yard. At the same time, the cost to buy the property and restore the house was high, according to a 1990 Coloradoan article, somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000.

The city decided not to restore the building and, much to the disappointment of preservationists, the Rhodes’ house was torn down.