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.
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.
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.
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.
Below is a scan of a photograph of two cowboys, probably in Fort Collins around 1891. This first scan shows the full photograph, reproduced as close as possible to what the image looks like if you held it in your hand.
This photograph is a cabinet card, popular in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Cabinet cards consisted of a thin photograph mounted on a larger piece of stiff cardstock. The most common cabinet cards were used for portraits and normally measured 4 ¼ by 6 ½ inches – just the right size to be displayed on or in a cabinet.
Larger sizes were often used for landscape or cityscape photographs. This card measures 4 ½ by 8 inches, though as you can see in the image, it has been trimmed on the top and bottom, probably to fit into a photo album.
Here are two scans of the card after building up the contrast in Photoshop. The second scan shows a close up of the building on the right side of the photograph. Notice the missing boards in the porch roof.
The buildings in the photograph are probably long gone. The one on the right side has great trim but it looks like it was deteriorating. The only real clue to the location of the photograph is a label on the reverse side. Here is the label.
Most cabinet cards showed the name of the photographer. Unfortunately, the trimming of this card probably cut off the photographer’s name, though it is easy to read “Fort Collins, Colo, on the right side and what looks like “Linden St.,” on the left side. There were very few photographers in Fort Collins in the late 1800s and the only one who I know had a studio on Linden Street was Stephen Seckner. I did a post on Seckner a few months ago. You can see it by clicking here. That post included this image of Seckner.
As you can see, the image matches very closely to the one on this cabinet card. Seckner took this photograph. Seckner may have taken the photograph outside of Fort Collins but, usually, early photographers stayed pretty close to home. In fact, if forced to bet, I’d bet this image was taken right on Linden Street, though we’ll probably never know.
While the location is impossible to know, we can date the image using what we know of Seckner and from the trim used on the cabinet card. Seckner advertised in the local newspapers and in May, 1891 he mentioned that he had moved his studio to 216 Linden Street. He was there until he moved to Walnut Street in 1905. At the same time, the gold trim used on the edges of this cabinet card was used for a fairly limited time, from around the mid 1880s to just after 1890. All of this would seem to indicate that this image was probably taken just as Seckner moved to Linden Street, circa 1891.
Finally, let me mention the two names shown on the front of the card – Ed Howard (probably the older man on the left) and Billie Allen (probably the younger man on the right). Searching the local newspapers of the time, I can find both names showing up in articles from as early as 1888 to as late as 1901. Unfortunately, the names are so common that I’m not sure they refer to the men shown in this photograph. In my dreams, I would have found a long article about Seckner taking the photograph of these two men, including a great back story, but no such luck.
If you have any information on this photograph or the men, I’d love to hear from you. You can respond by using the Comment box below or emailing me at email@example.com.
Stephen H. Seckner’s arrival in Fort Collins was mentioned in the July 15, 1880, Larimer County Express. He had arrived from Portland, Michigan, accompanied by his brother, H. D. Seckner. The July 15, 1880, Fort Collins Courier said the Seckner Brothers were inviting “one and all to step in and examine their stock of groceries, their prices, [and] their style of doing business.” Stephen Seckner ran the grocery for years, even after he became a photographer. But let’s back up a little.
Stephen H. Seckner was born January 27, 1847, in Lewis County, New York. His father, John, was a farmer. Seckner was 16 years old when he enlisted with Company K, New York 5th Heavy Artillery Regiment. He mustered out on in 1865 as a corporal. By 1870, Seckner was living in Michigan, where in 1873 he met and married Ida Ayres. They stayed together until Stephen Seckner’s death in 1923.
Seckner’s Fort Collins’ grocery business was quite successful and by 1883, he had his own building on Linden Street. How Seckner got into photography and exactly when he started taking photographs isn’t clear, but in the 1885 Fort Collins City Directory, Seckner is listed as both a grocer and a photographer, probably as a partner with Edward F. Bunn.
Bunn is one of my favorite Fort Collins photographers and I’ll do a post on him sometime in the future. For now, suffice it to say that Bunn arrived in Fort Collins in around 1885 and he and Seckner began working together immediately. Below is one of the Fort Collins’ images that they produced during their partnership.
Two of Fort Collins top historians, Rheba Massey and Wayne Sundberg, were nice enough to trace the location of this great, ivy-covered house. It was located off of South Mason Street on an unnamed alley, with part of the original Larimer County Courthouse shown in the background. The house shows up on some of the early Sanborn Fire Maps. Below is a portion of the 1891 Sanborn Map, with a red arrow pointing to the dwelling, courtesy of Lesley Struc and the Fort Collins Archive.
The house is gone now and, I think, a parking lot is in its place.
Seckner and Bunn mostly produced cabinet cards, thin photographs mounted on a hard card stock, usually 4 ¾ by 6 ½ inches. These cards frequently identified the name of the photography studio, either on the bottom of the card or on the reverse side. I’ve shown the complete studio identification in the captions of the photographs.
The larger size of cabinet cards made them more attractive to customers and by the 1880s; they were the preferred photographic format, especially for portraits. Here is another building the duo photographed, which, according to a handwritten caption on the back, is “Mrs. Robinson’s house.”
During this period, having your house photographed was a big thing. Residents tended to showcase the things they prized most. Mrs. Robinson apparently loved her white horse and her lawn sprinkler. Here is a close up of the family group.
Hopefully, you can see that the young man, holding this horse, also has a rifle leaning against his leg and that the family cat is on the table in front of the woman in white.
Many local history buffs have tried unsuccessfully to identify the location of this house. Mrs. Robinson might be the wife of then Larimer County Judge Thomas M. Robinson. If that is correct, their home might have been at Remington and Olive Street. A society announcement from this period mentioned the intersection as a location for the Judge’s home. Of course, Robinson is a common name. If you have a thought on the location of Mrs. Robinson’s home, please let me know by commenting at the end of this post or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On July 24, 1890, the Fort Collins Courier ran a short article on the partners. Seckner and Bunn had purchased an existing photographic studio and were now in position “to take first class ‘shadows’ of persons and things animate and inanimate.” But by early 1891 the partnership had dissolved and the Seckner and Bunn were running competing photographic studios. By the end of May 1891, Seckner was advertising that the “best arranged gallery in the state north of Denver [was] open to the public.” It used the second floor of his grocery store at 216 Linden Street.
While buildings interest me much more than portraits, portraits were (and probably still are) the bread and butter of photographers. Seckner was no exception. Seckner’s early portraits were simplified by turning the backgrounds almost white and by putting a vignette around the subject. It certainly made the person the subject of the photograph. I have a number of Seckner’s portraits in this style. I’ve chosen the one shown below because I was able to find something about the subject, Adolph Anderson, in the Colorado Historic Newspapers.
Adolph Anderson, a transplant from Sweden, is shown as a farmer in census records. His plot was small for a farm, only 15 acres. Anderson called it a garden but he ran it very efficiently. The July 26, 1894, Fort Collins Courier ran this article on our Swedish farmer.
“Six years ago Adolph Anderson came to Colorado fresh from the snow clad hillsides of Sweden. When he got off the train in Fort Collins his pocket contained ten double eagles which embraced the sum total of his worldly wealth. He secured employment right away as a farm hand and stuck to his job for two years.
“In the fall of 1890 he bought 15 acres of garden and grassland from W. F. Watrous for $1,000. With the money he had accumulated he purchased a team of horses, harness and wagon, an outfit of garden tools and a year’s supply of provisions. He went to work and fitted up ten acres of his land for gardening, keeping the other five for meadows and pastures.
“Every year since then he has harvested and sold from his ten acre patch, $1,200 to $1,500 worth of onions, cabbages and potatoes. . . . He also has a small catch of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, besides a few fruit trees that will soon come into bearing. He is a worker from the word go and hires but little help. He has made and is making market gardening pay in Colorado.”
By 1898, Seckner was out of the grocery business and, in 1905, Seckner opened a new studio at 317 Walnut Street, in the rear of the Frank Miller block. Seckner’s photographs were used in a number of projects, including in articles H. A. Crafts in Harper’s Magazine and Scientific American in 1897 and 1899. I shared those images in a post entitled “Building the Skyline Ditch.” You can see that post by clicking here.
But Seckner was an artist as well as a photographer. One of the earliest mentions of him in the Fort Collins newspapers reported on his “nice pen drawings.” In 1880, he had a pen and ink drawing of James Garfield displayed in the post office. In 1891, Seckner’s crayon drawing of General Sherman was used in a local memorial service and the local newspaper even praised the blackboard drawings he made to “elucidate” his Sunday school lessons. Often, Seckner tried to raise his photography to art as you can see in the following portrait.
Gone are the simplified portraits, replaced by involved studio settings. The parents of these children were H. C. and Josephine Covington. H. C. had numerous exploits reported in the local newspapers, including this one from the April 24, 1890, Fort Collins Courier.
“H. C. Covington successfully performed the daring feat of roping a wildcat while riding the range last week. The beast was discovered while hunting and finding that safety in retreat could not be depended on, assumed a defiant attitude and showed fight. A deft cast of the lariat caught the cat at a disadvantage and Covington then proceeded to secure his prize in a novel manner. Untying his overcoat from the saddle, he thrust a sleeve over the cat’s head and drew it over the animal as one would an arm. It was a tight fit, but after a chapter or two of angry growls the victim settled down in his incommodious quarters and gave up the balance of the day to a trip with Mr. Covington. At the ranch the menagerie attraction was emptied into a cage, apparently none the worse for wear.”
Seckner actively took photographs in Fort Collins at least until September, 1911. In the 25 or so years that Seckner worked as a photographer in Fort Collins, he must have taken thousands, if not tens of thousands, of photographs of Fort Collins and its people.
In 1920, Seckner and his wife moved to San Diego, California, and a year later to Spokane, Washington. On January 24, 1923, the Fort Collins Courier ran his obituary under the headline “Stephen E. Seckner Dies Suddenly at Spokane, Wash.” His body was coming back home to Fort Collins for the funeral and burial.
Fort Collins has been proud of its schools for a long time. The town opened a kindergarten in 1880, the first kindergarten west of St. Louis, MO. It also started a four-year high school program in 1889, long before other western towns of similar size. The pride also spread to the student body. The above multi-view postcard was mailed by a proud granddaughter, Florence, c. 1907, to her grandmother. Her message reads, “Grandma, this is my school house in the right hand corner, the Remington school. I will mark it X so you will know. Florence”
Below are photographs of the early historic schools in Fort Collins. The Fort Collins Archive kindly let me use a couple of their images so that you can see all the Fort Collins early schools from the Remington School, opened in 1879, through the second Fort Collins High School opened in 1925.
There are a lot of images so I’ve kept the text to a minimum. If you want to know more about the schools, here are links to a school post Meg Dunn wrote on Forgotten Fort Collins and to the premier document on the school system, In the Hallowed Halls of Learning: The History and Architecture of Poudre School District R-1, by Historitecture, L. L. C. It is available as a pdf and can tell you anything you want to know about the history of the Poudre School system. Most of the dates and other information I’ve used come from Chapter 5 of this document.
The first building constructed for the Fort Collins School system was a simple home built at what is now 115 Riverside Avenue. It was a front-gabled, wood frame building and opened in September 1871, almost 150 years ago. It was known as the “yellow schoolhouse.” I’ve never seen an early image of the school but, fortunately, the building still exists and is shown to the left in a photograph I took this week. It is designated a local historic landmark.
As the town grew, the need for a bigger school became apparent. The answer was a sturdy, square, brick structure at 318 Remington Street. The Remington School opened in 1879 and featured gaslights, central heating, and three teachers. Below is an image of the school, courtesy of the Fort Collins Archives.
The Remington School was razed in the late 1960s to make room for the DMA Plaza senior housing.
Only a few years after the Remington School was built, the need for another school became clear. The Benjamin Franklin School, on the southwest corner of Mountain Avenue and Howes Street, was completed in 1887, serving third- through eighth-grade students. Below are photographs of the school, from two different sides.
The Franklin School was a large, square, two-story structure. The large chimneys, projecting from the roof, helped communicate a sense of massiveness that wasn’t felt when looking at the Remington School. The completion of this building must have added to the growing civic pride of our small town.
The school boasted electric lighting and other modern conveniences. It was also the home to the district’s first high school – an experiment – that began in two classrooms. The high school graduated four girls and one boy in 1891. The building was torn down in 1959 to make room for Steele’s Market that itself was demolished in 2010.
High school enrollment soon justified a separate high school. The new school was designed by Fort Collins’ architect, Montezuma Fuller, and completed in 1903. It was located at 417 South Meldrum Street.
There were staircases on both sides of the school. Boys entered the school on the south and girls used the north entrance, with each having a separate lunchroom. Below are two images of the school in 1912.
The high school was expanded twice, to the south in 1916 and to the north in 1921. Below is a color postcard of the school after the 1916 addition.
Upon completion of the new high school, this building became Lincoln Junior High School. In 1977, parts of the school were torn down and parts were incorporated into the new Lincoln Center.
Fort Collins student population continued to grow quickly and in 1906/1907 the school district made a decision to build a pair of twin schools – both built from the same set of plans. Architectural critics decried it as unimaginative but the practice provided fast growing school systems with efficiencies of time and money. Montezuma Fuller was again hired as the architect. In 1906, the Laurel Street School opened, followed in 1907 by the Laporte Avenue School. Below is an image of the Laporte Avenue School, circa 1910, along with a close-up of the students clustered at the main entrance, the most notable architectural feature of the building.
The Laporte Avenue School was razed in 1975 but the Laurel Street School, located east of College Avenue, continues to serve the school district as Centennial High School, with a new addition that doubled the size of the school.
Another set of twin elementary schools followed in 1919 – The George Washington and Abraham Lincoln Schools. The two schools marked a departure from the earlier, box-shaped schools. The buildings reflected an era of reform in education, exemplifying a move from the school as a place for moral inspiration to the school as a place efficient learning. Below is a photograph of the George Washington School, circa 1919, courtesy of the Fort Collins Archive.
The schools are classified as “mutedly Craftsman” in architectural style. Architecturally, the buildings sported brackets and exposed rafter ends but the important design change was the interior, with smaller, more intimate classrooms arranged around a core of offices and a gymnasium/auditorium.
The George Washington School was located at 233 South Shields Street and is now the home of Colorado State University’s Early Childhood Center.
The Abraham Lincoln School, located at 501 East Elizabeth Street, changed names to Harris Elementary School in 1939 and is now the Harris Bilingual School.
By 1919, it was clear that Fort Collins needed a new high school but voters weren’t ready to support the construction of a new school. The north addition to the old high school was constructed as a compromise. The board kept pushing for a new high school and a committee was established to investigate the need for the school and possible sites. Voters slowly came around and in 1923, funding for the new school was approved.
Still, arguments persisted over the cost and the location of the proposed school. Finally, Louis Clark Moore, a prominent Fort Collins businessman and the treasurer of the school board, donated land to the district. The new high school would be built at 1400 Remington Street; a location many residents complained was too far out of town.
The Fort Collins High School opened in 1925. It was designed in the Colonial Revival style, with symmetrical wings extending from a central portico crowned by a white-painted cupola. Below is an image of the school shortly after completion.
The building featured a cafeteria, a full kitchen, a library, and a modern auditorium. The portico consisted of slender and extremely tall Doric columns. Here are a couple more images of the school:
Used until the new Fort Collins High School on Timberline Road was built in 1995, it is now the Colorado State University Center for the Arts.
According to In the Hallowed Halls of Learning, the high school on Remington Street was the last Fort Collins’ school designed in a historically inspired style. Later schools were built in a modern or postmodern style.
I have too many Virginia Dale images to cover in one post. So, today I’m going to post an 1867 image of the Overland Trail and some images of the Virginia Dale stage station, including a few images I took this week. A couple of weeks from now I’ll post the rest of my Virginia Dale pictures, including images of the Virginia Dale church and the post office/gas station that seems to have become an Internet favorite.
Also, I know very little about the Overland Trail, the stage station, or Jack Slade, so this post will mostly be about the photographs, with just a little history. I hope you enjoy the images.
In July 1862 alterations were made to the Overland Mail service route, which moved it into Colorado and through Laporte, the Forks, and Virginia Dale. Mail service ran across the Overland Trail six days per week, with the coaches carrying the mail and up to nine passengers. In 1863, Indian problems forced all east-west traffic to follow the Overland Trail. According to one report, “it was not uncommon to see from fifty to one hundred wagons with their loads of merchandise and freight encamped at the [Virginia Dale] station.” No wonder the trail became so worn, as you can see in this 1867 stereoview image.
I was able to find a lot of information about this image. It was taken by John Carbutt, a Chicago photographer who was hired to take photographs for a number of railroads, as they expanded west. One of his repeat customers was the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR).
In October 1867, Carbutt received a contract to photograph the UPRR’s “Editorial Party Excursion,” given for members of the eastern press. Carbutt went with them all the way to the Colorado Rockies, where he stopped for one-month to take images for his own business. He called the series “Views of the Rocky Mountains and Vicinity,” and his stereoviews in the series were numbered from 286 to 315. This image is one of the stereoviews from his Rocky Mountain Series.
I showed the image to local historian Wayne Sundberg who said he thinks Carbutt was “probably looking east, coming into Virginia Dale. Table Mountain is just barely visible in the background. The stage station . . . would be out of view to the left, around the curve.”
You can see a horse and wagon on the road and a couple of men in the right foreground. Here is a close-up of that section of the photograph.
In 1868 the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad to Cheyenne, WY ended the transcontinental mail and passenger service by stage, although the stagecoach continued to operate for many years in regions to which the railroad did not run.
Now let’s move on to the Virginia Dale stage station itself. Below is a brief introduction to it and to Jack Slade, taken from the current information sign, as you drive onto the property.
“Established in 1862 by Overland stage agent Joseph A. (Jack) Slade, the stage station may have been named after Slade’s wife, Virginia. The bullet riddled station served as a refuge from Indian attacks for the travelers and local residents. Slade himself gained notoriety for the killing of Jules Beni, one time Overland stage agent at Julesburg. It is said that Slade cut off Jules’ ears after the killing, nailed one to a post in the corral, and carried the other on his watch chain. Slade was widely suspected of being in league with stage robbers during his tenure at Virginia Dale, and the mountain to the northeast became known as Robbers’ Roost, because of the thieves who hid there. Slade later led an outlaw gang in Virginia City, where his career came to a sudden and violent end in 1864, when he was hanged by the local vigilance committee.”
The Virginia Dale stage station was a “home” or “division” stage station, which supplied food and even sleeping accommodations to the passengers. Both horses and drivers were switched at these larger stations and a large barn, corrals, and a blacksmith shop were part of the original facility. The smaller “swing” stations were located about every ten miles, so that the horse teams could be switched out.
The stage station stopped operating in 1868, but the building continued to serve as a post office and store until around 1932, when the post office was moved to Highway 287.
The stage station went through a number of owners and changes. The Hurzeler’s built a house on the property, when they owned and operated the station as a store and post office. The house is still there, very close to and just west of the stage station. The original station had a front porch that was gone by the early 1940s. Both the following real photo postcard images were taken after the post office had closed and the front porch had been removed.
Shelby Fishback was a long time Fort Collins photographer, with a downtown studio, from around 1925 until the early 1970s. I’m guessing that this image was taken not long after the porch was removed.
This image of the station was taken after 1950. The windmill has been replaced with an electric light pole and the white clapboards have aged. Notice in both images, that the original logs are only visible on the west end of the building.
In 1936, Fred and Maude Maxwell, local ranchers, gained ownership of the property. In 1964, they donated the stage station and the Hurzeler House to the Virginia Dale Community Club. In 1985, the Virginia Dale Stage Station was added to the National Register of historic Places. Recently, the Club has taken on the restoration of the station and they have done a beautiful job. Below are four photographs I took of the property last week.
To get to the stage station, turn off 287 just north of the historic marker. (I think it is CR 43F.) Take the dirt road and follow the signs to the property. It is between one and two miles. You will come to a fork. Stay left and you will be fine.
The Hurzeler House can be seen to the left side of the image and the stage station to the right. There would have been a large barn in the left foreground. It was moved to an adjacent ranch at some point.
The log structure was built using “piece-sur-piece” construction. This construction method was described on the National Register as having “vertically notched horizontal timbers . . . placed into grooves of vertical timbers set at regular intervals.” Now that the clapboards are gone, it is easy to see the construction technique. This method made it easier to build large log structures without mechanical equipment.
The replacement of the porch is the latest renovation of the stage station by the Community Club. It is beautiful. My wife and I had the pleasure of having lunch on the porch, sitting in the shade on wooden benches and leaning against logs that are over 150 years old. The only thing that would have made it better was the arrival of a stagecoach and horses.
Below is the website address for the Virginia Dale Community Club. I’m sure they’d appreciate any help we can give them with this wonderful project. Donations can be mailed to:
I was planning on doing a post on a section of the Poudre Canyon but, as fortune would have it, I won two applicable images on eBay so I’m going to delay that post until their arrival. Instead, I decided to share an 1897 image of John C. Davis’ Fort Collins carpenter shop. I’m going to share some information on both the building and its owner.
Notice the false front on the building. False fronts were popular on wooden buildings in the West in the last half of the 19th century as a way to add dignity to a hastily constructed building.
The reverse side of the photograph has two different handwritten notations. The first one is about the building and gives us an address of 140 S. College Avenue, Fort Collins and an approximate date of 1897. A trip to the Fort Collins Archive and a search of their Sanborn Fire Insurance maps found Davis’ building sitting by itself on South College. Below is a section of the 1895 Sanborn map, showing the location of the carpentry shop on South College Avenue.
The lot is empty in two earlier Sanborn maps from 1886 and 1891. It is shown on the 1895 and 1901 maps but, on the 1906 map, the carpentry building is gone, replaced with two businesses, a wallpaper and paint company and a printing business. The City Directories and some other clues indicate that Davis was running his business from his home by 1902 or 1903. So, the structure shown in the first image probably only graced Fort Collins for ten years or so. Today, the store “Wear It Again, Sam” is probably where the Davis building stood at the turn of the 20th century.
The second caption on the back of the photograph identifies two of the people in the image. John C, Davis is the older man on the far right of the photograph. His son, Orton Davis, is standing to his left. The other two men, probably employees, are unidentified. Here is a close-up of Orton (left) and John Davis (right).
A lot can be written about John C. Davis. I’m going to keep it brief.
Davis was born in 1843 in Pennsylvania. During the Civil War, he enlisted as a private with Company G, 140th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The 140th Pennsylvania saw a lot of action during the war. Davis’ fighting record was so extensive that the Fort Collins Courier ran a summary of it on May 27, 1908. The article mentions 29 “major” battles, including Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, and Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Somehow Davis made it through the war unharmed.
Davis returned to his home in Pennsylvania and married his wife, Sarah Leticia, in 1867. They had a daughter, Cora, in 1870 and their son, Orton Volney Davis, was born in 1876. During this period, Davis worked as a carpenter and a teamster. In April 1882, a brief article in the Monongahela, Pennsylvania Daily Republican announced the next phase of the Davis family’s life:
“John C. Davis and family left on the noon train for Colorado. John will work at his trade, that of carpenter, for a while after he reaches the hills, but intends ultimately to farm or graze cattle.”
It is possible that Davis came almost immediately to Fort Collins, since the September 16, 1882 Fort Collins Courier reports on a fight between a contractor named Bishop and “a carpenter named Davis.” The fight apparently started with an argument over some measurements and ended with Bishop trying to hit Davis with a saw. It wasn’t the first fight for Bishop so Davis got off with a five dollar fine for disturbing the peace.
Davis quickly became one of the premier carpenters and then contractors in Fort Collins. The list of the buildings he built is extensive. For example, a brief article in 1902 mentions that Davis had built 12 homes in the last two years. But, he also worked on large projects for the town and for the college. One of his earliest major projects was the construction of a barn for the college in 1887.
The August 11, 1887, Courier announced that “bids for the building of the college barn were opened. . . . Contracts were awarded to Geo. Kelly, who secured the stone work, John C. Davis the carpentry and Smith and Soult, the painting.” Below is a photograph, courtesy of CSU’s online images, of the barn Davis built.
According to Gordon “Hap” Hazard, a CSU historian, this barn was built as a horse barn in 1887 but was converted to a dairy barn when a new and larger horse barn was built. The dairy barn was razed in 1957.
Davis would go on to build other major structures, including a veterinary hospital for the college, a new Methodist Church, the Trimble Block on North College, and many of the finest homes in Fort Collins.
John C. Davis died in 1927 and is buried in Grandview Cemetery.
Orton followed in his father’s footsteps. At 25, Orton was the general contractor and carpenter for the Avery House, when it was built in 1901.
Next week, depending on when my new images arrive, I’ll either do a post on the Poudre Canyon or share a collection of Fort Collins fraternal order ribbons I’ve collected over the years.
Below is an iconic view of Colorado Agricultural College, now CSU, taken circa 1887. Unlike the last two images I’ve posted, many of you have probably seen this image. It has been used in a number of local histories, including Fort Collins: Then & Now written by Barbara Fleming and me and Democracy’s College in the Centennial State: A History of Colorado University written by James E. Hansen II. I hope this post can tell you some things you didn’t know about the image and, even if it doesn’t, it is still a phenomenal image.
When I decided to post this image, I approached the CSU Archives for help in identifying the buildings. Victoria Lopez-Terrill, Librarian and Assistant to the Coordinator, at the Archives and Special Collections, an always helpful resource, sent me to Gordon “Hap” Hazard. Many of you may know Hap, he is a History Researcher at the CSU Archives, and, by chance, was also investigating this image. Hap knew the buildings and had a wealth of information on the setting of the photograph. Together, Hap’s knowledge of the campus and the buildings and my knowledge of the photographers allowed us to establish a date for the photograph that we think is right, plus or minus a few years.
First, let’s look at the photographers.
This photograph is a cabinet card. Cabinet cards are photographic prints mounted on card stock, which made the prints stronger and more durable than the photographic print alone. They came to be called “cabinet cards,” because they could be easily propped up and displayed in a home, especially in a cabinet in the parlor. Eventually large albums were made to hold the cards, which soon became a staple in almost every home in the United States. They were introduced in the 1860s and reached their peak of popularity in the 1880s and 1890s.
They are big photographs, typically 4 ½ x 6 ½ inches, though this one is bigger, about 5 x 8 inches over all, though the image itself is slightly smaller. Often, cabinet cards had room on the front for the photographers name but on this card, the information is printed on the back.
Edward F. Bunn and Stephen H. Seckner both began photographing in Fort Collins around 1885. Exactly when they became partners is harder to know. A Fort Collins Courier article dated July 24, 1890 says the two men had just purchased an existing photographic studio together but they could have been working as partners before then. A newspaper advertisement in January 1891 indicates that Seckner was working by himself, which gives us an end date for the partnership.
Looking at the date of the photograph just from the point of view of the photographers, gives us a range of 1885 to 1891. This date span corresponds well when Hap compares the buildings in the photograph to the early construction history at CAC. Both lead us to think that circa 1887 is a reasonable date estimate for this image. Now let’s move on to the location of the photograph and the buildings in the image, using Hap’s knowledge of CAC’s history.
This image was probably taken on South College Avenue, close to where the South College Gymnasium and Glenn Morris Field House are located today. The buildings are labeled in the slight enlargement shown above. Below are two enlargements that show the buildings better, along with a little information about them.
Just for fun, I have cropped this image to match the section Dr. Hansen used in Democracy’s College. The images shows Old Main on the left and the Dormitory Building, which we now know as Spruce Hall, on the right.
Old Main, the first classroom building on the campus, was opened in 1879. Old Main was all-purpose, with classrooms, offices, and living quarters for the college’s first president. Almost a century and several additions later, the rambling building was destroyed by fire, deliberately set during a period of student unrest in the 1970s. I’ll do two posts in the future on Old Main, one showing some early images of the building and a second to share a number of photographs of the fire that destroyed this College and community landmark.
Early in its history, CAC was having trouble growing its student population. It was hoped that adding a dormitory for out of town students would help the school grow. The Dormitory Building was constructed in 1881. It has served several purposes since then and was renamed Spruce Hall. Spruce Hall is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Click “CSU’s Spruce Hall” for an earlier article and photos I have posted on this building.
The Barn, shown on the left side of this image, probably has the most complicated history. The barn was built in 1882, for the veterinary program, and converted into a chemistry laboratory a year or so later. Since then it has served various purposes, including becoming the school’s first freestanding library in 1905. We now know it as Laurel Hall, home of the Office of International Programs.
The building on the right side of the enlargement is the Mechanics Shop built in 1883. It was the first stage of four stages that would form the Mechanical Engineering Building or what is now known as the Preconstruction Center. The building is on the Colorado State Registry of Historic Properties. I’ve also done an earlier post on this building and you can see more photographs and get more information by clicking “Mechanical Engineering Building.”
Finally, I tried to guess where this photograph was taken and I’ll end by showing a “Now” image from the spot I chose on South College Avenue. The neighborhood certainly has changed since 1887.
Next, I will post two great images only related by being taken in 1911 – the Fort Collins Telephone Exchange and the start of a July 4th motorcycle race. I will try to post one on Wednesday or Thursday and the second image on Sunday. I hope you enjoy them.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page can click the “Colorado State University” category to see the rest of my CSU posts.
The Fort Collins Courier announced a new restaurant in an article dated July 15, 1880. The building was owned and operated by A. B. Ogden and built by Perry Harrington for $1,700.
“The [Cornucopia Restaurant] is the name given to the elegant ice cream parlor, opened last Friday, by our energetic townsmen, Mr. A. B. Ogden. It is situated on College Avenue, opposite the Commercial [Hotel], in the tasty brick block just finished by the proprietor. . . . the bill of fare embraces ice cream, with all the different flavors, and frozen fruits of different kinds. A soda fountain has been put in place, and a fine stock of confectionaries and fancy groceries will be carried. . . . No young gent can feel exactly right until he has invited his Duleinea [Don Quixote’s love] to partake of it. If he fails to, he should be immediately ‘bounced.'”
The Commercial Hotel was the predecessor to the Northern Hotel. The Cornucopia Restaurant’s address, after a very early street numbering change, was 169 North College Avenue.
A. B. Ogden was born in Illinois in 1845 and arrived in Fort Collins in 1878, with his wife, Harriet Giddings Ogden. He quickly got into the ice cream business. An article, from the June 24, 1880 Courier, mentioned him when describing a festival held at St. Luke’s Church. “The ice cream was made by Mr. Ogden and many were the praises bestowed on him.” When he died in 1917, his interest included “livestock, farming, real estate, contracting and diversified affairs.” He also served for a few years as city marshal.
I believe this photograph only shows a half of the new building. The building extends to the left, though I’ve had trouble determining exactly how far. As you’ll see in some later images, it is hard to tell if the building had five or six second floor windows. Here’s a close-up showing the front of the building, from the above photograph.
The back of the image carries the date 1879 but the lamp post that is front and center was mentioned in an October 14, 1880 article in the Courier. “Ogden, of the Cornucopia Restaurant, has set up a magnificent street lamp before his door.” The new lamp post might have been the occasion for this photograph, but, for sure, the image dates after this addition and after 1879.
Who the man is in the photograph? It would make sense if it were A. B. Ogden. Ogden would have been around 36 when this photograph was taken, which seems right for the man in the photograph.
On the other hand, on the back of this image is this penciled caption, “Grandpa Haggerty buried at Fort Wayne, Ind.” It seems that this caption must be for the man in the photograph. An Otis E. Haggerty, who was born in Indiana, was living in Fort Collins in 1880, according to the 1880 US Census. His occupation was listed as “Teamster.” Unfortunately, he would have been 18 or 19 when this photograph was taken and, while the close-up of the man isn’t great, he doesn’t appear that to me to be that young.
While called a restaurant, the Cornucopia was originally an ice cream shop, but that quickly changed. A Courier article, dated October 20, 1881, told about the change and included a detailed description of the interior.
“The Cornucopia Restaurant, for neatness and attractiveness, would be a credit to any city. The dining room has been considerably enlarged, and the walls hung with paper of pleasing hues and appropriate designs. A large number of marble-top private dining tables have been added to the furniture of the room, which is richly carpet, making it one of the coziest and most delightful places to sit down for a quiet meal imaginable. . . . The bakery in connection . . . is new and in charge of experienced first-class workmen.”
A week later, a reporter summed up the restaurant by saying, “The Cornucopia Restaurant is a daisy!”
My guess is that this image was taken after the expansion to a full restaurant. Though hard to see, the left window says “Cornucopia” and the right widow says “Restaurant.” I think it may also says “Cornucopia Restaurant” on the top section of the lamp post. It doesn’t seem that an ice cream shop would have been called a restaurant. Also, the fence advertises the bakery, which according to the newspaper article, was new in the 1881 expansion. So, all things considered, I think this photograph was taken after October 20, 1881.
Between 1881 and 1904, the restaurant changed proprietors at least a dozen times, but always keeping the Cornucopia Restaurant name. Two other restaurants would take its place for extended periods of time. The first was the Wano Cafe.
The Wano Cafe was open by 1909, since they were running ads for waitresses in the local newspapers, and was open under this name until sometime around 1930. This image of the Wano, courtesy of CSU, was taken on July 24, 1924.
The Wano Cafe sign is on the section of the building shown in the 1881 image. You can see, in the Wano image, how the building extends to the south. By the way, the building shown to the north of the Wano Cafe is now Old Town Art and Framery. It was built in 1881 by the Perry Harrington, the same man who built the Cornucopia, and, in the earliest article I found, was called the Owen’s Block. You can see that Harrington’s two buildings look similar, causing a lot of confusion for me as I researched my image.
The rest of the story comes from a Historic Building Inventory, completed by James Marmor in October 1996.
The Nu Pheasant Cafe took the place of the Wano Cafe in 1931. It was replaced by the Clark’s Cafe in the early to mid 1930s. Here’s a photograph of Clark’s Cafe.
Thanks to the Spencer Tracy movie at the American, this photograph can be precisely dated to 1947.
The Clark Cafe had a long run, serving Fort Collins until the early 1950s, when Sears Roebuck and Company occupied the space lower space and the upper story, the Clark’s Hotel, came under new ownership as the Briggs Apartment.
In 1966 a major remodeling was completed and, it’s believed, that’s when a new facade was applied over the Cornucopia and the building to the south of it. The building to the south of the Cornucopia got its start as Theodore Vogle’s barber shop in July, 1881. The result of the remodeling was the Briggs Building, shown below in a photograph I took in 2007.
Unfortunately, all that may remain of the wonderful Cornucopia Restaurant is this 1881 photograph.
For another article on this block, view this post in Forgotten Fort Collins by Meg Dunn.
This is the 50th post in Fort Collins Images. I was going to celebrate by posting five images that I think are pretty special. But, as I worked on the post, it became clear that the covering five subjects at one time would be too long and too complicated. Instead, I’m going to post the five images over the next two or three weeks.
I think these images will be new to most viewers. They are all early images, from 1874 to 1911, and I’ll show them in chronological order. I hope you enjoy them, starting with this image of Palmer’s Ranch.
Joseph Collier was born in Scotland and immigrated to Central City, Colorado in June 1871. His cousin, D. C. Collier, owned the Daily Central City Register newspaper and invited Joseph and his family to join him. Collier’s first studio was in the back room of the newspaper.
Starting in 1871, Collier began making photographic trips through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. By the time he was done, The Rocky Mountain News proclaimed that Collier’s stereoviews “covered nearly every section of the Territory.”
One place Collier visited was the Poudre Canyon. He made a series of photographs that he entitled the “Cache a la Poudre Series.” The April 22, 1874, Fort Collins Standard reported:
“We have received from Mr. D. C. Collier . . . some very fine stereoscoptic views of Cache-a-la-Poudre scenery, taken by Mr. J. Collier. These views are unsurpassed in grandeur by any we have ever seen. . . . They are executed in the highest style of art. We shall take pleasure in showing these views to any wishing to see them.”
This image, entitled “Palmer’s Ranch,” was probably taken during this trip. The back of the stereoview carries this printed caption:
“No. 79. Cache a la Poudre Series – Palmer’s Ranch. It is situated about two miles north of the river. There is now a good hotel near this spot and good accommodations for tourists and sportsman.”
Precisely where Palmer’s Ranch was located isn’t known. Two short newspaper articles indicate that the ranch was owned by John Palmer and was located near the point where the Dry Creek Ditch leaves the Poudre River, “about a mile and a quarter above La Porte.” So it seems that the ranch was close to Laporte, Colorado.
Not much is known about John Palmer either. Lesley Struc, the Fort Collins Archivist, found that John Palmer married Margaret Janise (Janis), the daughter of Antoine Janis. Here is Lesley’s summary of the family.
“In 1867, Antoine Janis received the first land patent in Larimer County for 160 acres. Antoine and his Oglala Lakota wife, Mary Featherman (niece or half-sister to Red Cloud) remained in Colona [the original name for Laporte] until 1878. Other names for his wife include First Elk Woman and Mary Elk Woman. Together they raised a large family of 16 children, one of whom was Margaret Janise (Janis) who married John Palmer (or Palmier).
“In 1878 the U.S. government forced the Lakota to relocate to the Red Cloud Agency in South Dakota, later renamed the Pine Ridge Reservation. Janis was given a choice: remain on his land—without his family—or go to South Dakota with them. He chose to leave with his family. Descendants of Janis and First Elk Woman still live on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and Lakota still come to the Bingham Hill Cemetery in Laporte to visit the graves of their ancestors.”
A newspaper announcement in June 1899 tells us that John Palmer and his family also left for the Pine Ridge Reservation. Whether Palmer and his family were forced to the reservation or if they just went because his wife’s family was there is unknown to me. The article called him “one of the earliest settlers of the Poudre Valley.”
Here is a closer view of the men and the cabin.
There are seven men in the photograph, each with a rifle. The man, seated in the foreground, appears to have a rifle with a long scope similar to the rifles used by sharpshooters in the Civil War. Notice the guitar between the two men on the right side.
One of these men is probably John Palmer. Which one it is will probably never be known.
I have a half dozen of Collier’s Poudre Canyon photographs in my collection. While they are old, they really aren’t very exciting. Here are two of them with their captions.
“No. 95. Cache-La-Poudre Series, – In Glen Doe. Glen Doe is the most charming portion of the valley of the Cache-la-Poudre. It is located 50 miles back from the plains and consists of a beautiful grass valley through which the river flows, enclosed by abrupt mountains running from one to two thousand feet high. It’s elevation at its upper end is 7,611 feet”
I couldn’t find any modern reference to a “Glen Doe” along the Poudre River but the second image can put us in its neighborhood.
“No. 85. The Falls are five miles above Glen Doe, and consist of three cascades making an aggregate fall of forty feet. The water dashes through a narrow chasm of not more than three or four feet in width, while above and below the stream is so rapid, deep and wide as to make it difficult to ford.”
Probably Collier has photographed Poudre Falls, about 50 miles from Ted’s place, at milepost 75. Glen Doe then would be around milepost 80.
A particular point of interest is that in 1873, Collier presented a set of his Colorado stereoviews to First Lady Julia Grant, who accompanied President Grant during his visit to Colorado and Central City.
In 1877, Collier moved to Denver, opening a studio on Larimer Street. His trips to the mountains became less frequent and, by the turn of the century, his failing health forced him to abandon photography. Joseph Collier died on December 23, 1910.
In the second of five posts, we’ll move forward in time by about six years to a new restaurant that just opened in Fort Collins, the Cornucopia.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page can click the “Poudre Canyon” category to see the rest of my Poudre posts.
Dr. Charles William Bingley announced his presence in Fort Collins with his advertisement for photography services. His March 31, 1881, advertisement in the Larimer County Express gave his location as “Jefferson Street, nearly opposite the Tedmon House” and offered his services for portraits as well as “views of scenery, buildings, horses, cattle, or dogs.”
Bingley was born and educated in England. He had a doctorate in Chemistry from Sheffield College of Medicine. A number of articles written by him appeared in scholarly journals of the 1850s. He may have immigrated to Charleston, SC in the 1860s, at least there is a C. W. Bingley living there at that time. This Bingley enlisted as a private in K Company of the South Carolina 6th Infantry during the Civil War.
The 1880 Colorado State Business Directory lists Dr. Bingley under photographers in Golden, CO. and, according to Harber’s “Directory of Early [Colorado] Photographers, 1853 – 1900,” he was there through 1880. During this period, Bingley wrote a few articles for the Western Photographic News that can be found online. Why he left Golden and moved to Fort Collins isn’t known.
Bingley ran almost weekly advertisements in Fort Collins from March through August, 1881. During the summer of 1881, Bingley shared his studio with another early Fort Collins photographer, James William Shipler. I’ve shared some information and an early photograph of Shipler’s on an earlier post and update. The links to them are shown below.
The September 8, 1881, Larimer County Express reported that Bingley had to move his business because of some new construction on Jefferson Street.
The loss of his studio may have hurt his business because Bingley’s name doesn’t show up again in the local newspapers until the December 28, 1882, Fort Collins Courier covered the attempted suicide of his wife, calling it an “unfortunate case of trouble.”
The article reports that Bingley disappeared from Fort Collins on December 20, 1881, maybe because of the “dullness of business,” and speculates that he had gone to England. His wife, only referred to as “Mrs. Bingley,” had opened a boarding house to support herself. She seemed to be doing well but had tried to poison herself with laudanum shortly after the one-year anniversary of Bingley’s disappearance. One of her boarders interrupted her before she could finish the poison and got medical help. Calling it a “temporary aberration of the mind,” the newspaper believed she would regain her health.
Colorado records show that an Anna Bingley, of Larimer County, filed for divorce on August 6, 1884.
During his short stay in Fort Collins, Bingley managed to leave some interesting images. I’ll start with a Bingley image that the Fort Collins Archive was nice enough to share with us and then cover the two Bingley images I own.. All three images are cabinet cards.
This is the only photograph in the Fort Collins Archive attributed to Bingley, but it is a great one. The Archive uses a date of c. 1890 but it must have been taken in 1881, the only year Bingley worked in Fort Collins. Stover’s Drugstore was on the corner of Linden and Jefferson Streets, close to Bingley’s studio.
While the first soda dispensers appeared in the United States as early as 1810, Stover’s Drugstore had the first soda dispenser in Fort Collins. This photograph probably commemorated its arrival. The pulls at the bottom of the machine are labeled “Cream Syrups,” and the three pulls on the right side are for Birch Beer, Blackberry, and Orange. The syrups would have been mixed with a carbonated beverage from the large spigots above the pulls. The right spigot is labeled “Seltzer.” The left one is illegible. The “Do Not Handle” sign on the bottom indicates that this wasn’t a self-service machine.
This building was located on the northeast corner of Linden and Jefferson Streets. Though you can’t read the window sign in the photograph, there is a billiard hall between A. B. Tomlin Dry Goods and the H. E. Tedmon Hardware Store. The smaller building to the right of the hardware store was a carriage painting shop.
This is the most fascinating of the three photographs to me. Obviously, Bingley took the photograph from an elevated location. But where was he? I think I can answer that question with certainty.
Lesley Struc (the Fort Collins Archivist) and I used an enlargement of the “downtown” area to identify some landmarks that we could accurately place on the Archive’s oldest Sanborn Fire Maps. Here is the enlargement with the landmarks labeled.
The big building on the left side is the Welch Building. It was/is at the northwest corner of Mountain and College Avenues, where Austin’s American Grill is today. I’ll come back to it at the end.
The church to the right of the Welch Building and a little forward of it was, I think, the first Presbyterian church in Fort Collins. It was at the southwest corner of Linden and Walnut Streets, where The Right Card is located today. Finally, the Collins House, a stone building with a mansard-like roof was on the south side of Jefferson Street between Chestnut and Linden Streets. It is on the right side of the image.
We speculated that the only building tall enough and properly located for Bingley’s perch was the Lindell Mill, now Ranch-way Feeds at 546 Willow Street. Using the Sanborn Maps and imaginary lines form the landmark buildings to the mill, we were able to find the house shown in the foreground of the image. Though we couldn’t find the owner’s name, we know it was at 801 Willow Street, when this photograph was made, or 501 Willow Street, when the numbering of Willow Street was changed. Of course, the house is gone today, replaced by commercial buildings.
Bingley must have been on the top of the mill, with a telephoto lens aimed at the Mountain and College intersection.
Let’s look even closer at the Welch Building.
The first time I saw a photograph of this iteration of the Welch Building I thought it surely wasn’t in Fort Collins. It was, but not for long.
A fire in 1880 destroyed the original Welch Block, at the corner of College and Mountain Avenues. Jacob Welch quickly rebuilt it into a grand, three-story edifice that, among other businesses, housed the elegant Windsor Hotel.
Bingley’s photograph captures the building at its peak. The building was so impressive that a local newspaper ran a photograph of the Welch Building and suggested readers buy extra copies to mail to their friends so they would know that Fort Collins was no longer a one-horse town.
Another fire in 1885 damaged the building and the corner section was rebuilt but without the third-floor. The corner building remains two-stories today.
Next Sunday we’ll continue our trip up the Poudre Canyon, hopefully with some images you have never seen.