Images of Early Windsor, Colorado – Part 2

As explained in Images of Early Windsor, Colorado – Part 1, the opening of the sugar beet plant in 1903 dramatically and quickly changed the town. Between the 1900 and 1910 U. S. Census, the population of Windsor soared from 305 to 1,780 residents. To meet the needs of the growing population, a high school, the Park School, was built on the southwestern corner of Walnut and Third Streets. The original two-story structure was completed in 1905.

By 1909, the Park School was too small and a new wing and a third floor were added to the high school. The enlarged school was ready in early 1910. Below is a photograph of Park School shortly after the work was completed.

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Park School, Windsor, Colorado’s High School. Postmarked 1911.

An online document has this architectural description of the school:

“The 1910 Park School . . . is a Colonial revival styled, three-story building of stone construction with an irregular rectangular plan, multiple roof, half-sunk basement, and two identical arched entrances. The stone walls feature rough-cut, irregular coursed stone from a local quarry, the roof is finished with asphalt shakes, and the foundation consists of concrete.”

The Park School was converted to a grade school in 1918 with the construction of a new high school. It was closed in the late 1970s and converted to the Town Hall in the 1980s. Below is a “now” photo of the Park School as the Town Hall.

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Windsor Town Hall, February 3, 2017.

Shortly after the conversion of the Park School to a grade school, the school board voted on the construction of a junior high school. While I couldn’t find much on the building, I believe this may be a photograph of the 1921 junior high, circa 1925.

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Junior High School, Windsor, Colo. c. 1925.

The rapid growth of the early 1900s also demanded a permanent place to house city offices and records. The Town Hall, located at 116 5th Street, was constructed in 1909 to meet these needs. It was the center of town activity for over 60 years.

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City Hall, New Windsor, Colo. C. 1910

This image of the new town building was probably made shortly after construction. Notice the hitching posts in front of the building. Certainly horses and the hitching posts would have been gone before 1920.

The Windsor Town Hall made it onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. It is one of two Windsor buildings listed on the Register. The other is the Windsor Milling and Elevator Company, covered in Images of Early Windsor, Colorado – Part 1.

The application for National Register listing included the following information:

“The building was built at an original cost of $7,500. The first floor housed the council chamber, clerk’s office, the records, and the fire fighting equipment and sleeping quarters for the firemen. The first floor also housed the police magistrate and the town jail. The second floor was unfinished until 1921 and then was used as an auditorium and meeting place for various organizations. . . . The community library was housed there from 1948 until 1961. The town vacated the building in 1984.”

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City Hall, Windsor, Colo. with Fire Truck. C. 1930

As this image proves, any building looks better with a fire truck. The photograph was probably taken around 1930. The building looks much like it did when it was first built. The hitching posts are gone, the trim is light rather than dark, and the double equipment door has been lowered, eliminating the transom windows.

The Register of Historic Places application includes some information on fire equipment that may help to date this image.

“The Fire Department was located in the Town Hall from 1909 to 1963 when the department built a building of its own. At first a fire wagon was housed there. By 1916 a used motorized fire truck was purchased and stored in the Town Hall. Nine years later [1925] that truck was replaced by a more modern one that was itself replaced in 1941.”

I think this truck is most likely the truck purchased in 1925, though I’m not sure. Here is a close up of the vehicle.

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Close-up Fire Truck at City Hall, c. 1930

The building now houses the Windsor Art and Heritage Center and looks very much like it did in 1930.

Finally, below is a great image of a music room.

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Music Room. Postmarked 1907 from New Windsor, Colo.

I hope someone can tell me if this is a room in Windsor, CO. It is postmarked New Windsor but the message on the back isn’t helpful. It reads, “Guess you’ll recognize this room.” Do you?

Next week it’s back to Fort Collins to look at images of the Woeber Interurban streetcars.

Images of Early Windsor, Colorado – Part 1

In 1873, J. L. Hilton built a small house half-way between Greeley and Fort Collins, Colorado. It became known as the “half-way” house and was a landmark for travelers between the two bigger towns and county seats of Northern Colorado. Even today, Windsor, Colorado is shared by Larimer and Weld Counties.

Below are some images of Windsor, mostly from the early 20th century. I hope you enjoy them.

We’ll start with two images of Main Street, both circa 1905.

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Main Street, New Windsor, Colorado, c. 1905
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Street Scene, New Windsor, Colorado, c. 1905

I think these two images show the two sides of Main Street at a time when horse and buggies still filled the street but signs of a more modern time, like cement sidewalks and power poles, were appearing. Notice that both postcards use “New Windsor” as name of the town. There is an interesting story behind this version of the name told in The Struggle for Identity: Windsor’s Historic Downtown by Adam Thomas, HISTORITECTURE, LLC.

“Contrary to the belief of many, the town was never known as “New Windsor,” but the name of the post office was changed from Windsor to New Windsor because of the careless habit of so many in abbreviating the names of Colorado and California, “Col.” and “Cal.,” making their o’s and a’s so much alike that mail clerks had difficulty in determining where to send some pieces of mail. There was a Windsor, California, too.”

The article goes on to say that while this is an interesting story, a simpler explanation is that at the time of the founding of Windsor in Northern Colorado, another Windsor already existed in Routt County, Colorado. The post office had to append “New” to the Windsor name to avoid confusion. However, the residents stuck to their name saying in an 1899 newspaper article that “the town is no more New Windsor than it is New York.” Fortunately, the post office and citizenry became united in name on October 1, 1911, after Routt County’s Windsor had disappeared.

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Windsor Lake, New Windsor, Colorado. C. 1910.

While centrally located, Windsor wasn’t ideal for farming. Cultivation was only possible in the limited river bottoms. However, early settlers knew the area had a particularly low-lying and marshy spot – a natural reservoir site. Construction began in the early 1880s and the reservoir, first called Lake Hollister and then Kern Reservoir or Windsor Lake, changed the future of Windsor. Thomas in The Struggle of Identity says, “With irrigation, Windsor became the center of an expansive farming and livestock-feeding empire that made the town a natural agricultural processing hub.”

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Digging Potatoes in Windsor, Colo. C. 1905

Windsor farmers grew a variety of products, including oats, barley, and alfalfa, but the area later became known for its potatoes and sugar beets.

An early objective for many Northern Colorado towns was the completion of a local flour mill. Windsor was no exception. As early as 1884 the Fort Collins Courier reported, “There is strong talk of a steam flouring mill built in Windsor this summer,” but the first Windsor mill wasn’t completed until October 1896. The Greeley Tribune reported on October 29, 1896, “Last Tuesday smoke began to ascend heaven ward, bearings were lubricated and wheels began to revolve and the Windsor mill was in motion and ready to make Windsor flour a reality.” Unfortunately, this mill was destroyed by fire in July 1899, with loses estimated by the Fort Collins Weekly Courier at $50,000.

Windsor remained undaunted. Within a month, the planning for a new mill was underway. The February 8, 1900, Greeley Tribune reported, “The Windsor brick flouring mill, which is to be twice as large as the one that burned down, . . . is nearing completion.” Known as the Windsor Milling and Elevator Co., the plant, according to the September 20, 1900, Fort Collins Weekly Courier, was completing some finishing touches and “Windsor can now boast of one of the largest, finest most complete and up-to-date mills in the west.”

Here is a photograph of the Windsor Milling and Elevator Co., circa 1910.

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Windsor Milling and Elevator Company’s Plant, New Windsor, Colo. C. 1910

Located at 301 Main Street, the plant operated until 1990 as a flour mill and later a feed mill. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 1998. The mill’s fourth story and much of the third floor were destroyed in the 2008 tornado that tore through Windsor. Renovations are now underway to turn the historic structure into a brewpub, bar, and dining facility.

Below is the building as it looked a few days ago. One recent article said that the target date for completion is the end of 2017.

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Windsor Milling and Elevator Company, February 3, 2017.

The next, and probably the most significant event in early Windsor history, was the opening of a sugar beet factory in the early 20th century.

Sugar beets were changing Northern Colorado. The Loveland sugar beet factory had opened in 1901 and farmers all over the area were switching their fields from wheat to sugar beets. Windsor was no exception.

The Windsor beet dump opened on October 18, 1901, providing the mechanism to efficiently transfer the beets from the farmer’s wagons to the railcars, which would move the beets to the Loveland factory. (See “The Sugar Beet Dump” post.) But Windsor wanted their own plant and got it.

Ground was broken for the plant in November 1902, on property east of town, and they started processing beets one year later.

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Sugar Beet Factory, New Windsor, Colo. C. 1910.

One local newspaper wrote, Windsor “is no longer a wayside trading post. A bright day has dawned upon our little city, and the future will evidently unfold brighter things.”

Sugar beet factories changed our small Northern Colorado towns. They brought the first real industry to most of them. Thomas’ The Struggle for Identity: Windsor’s Historic Downtown documents the growth in population. “The 1900 U. S. Census found 305 people living in Windsor, a number that had been nearly stagnant for decades; by 1910, the town had about 1,780 residents, a 484 percent increase over ten years.”

Thomas also found a surge in downtown building. Of the 43 extant commercial buildings that he surveyed in 2009/2010, nineteen were built between 1900 and 1910. The factory had an “immediate and profound effect upon Windsor.” I’ll cover a couple of these buildings next Sunday in Part 2 of the Windsor story.

The Windsor factory shut down in 1966. Luckily, the sugar beet site was quickly leased to Kodak and, by 1968, the “Welcome Eastman Kodak” signs were hanging in downtown Windsor.

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Signing the Lease for Office Space in Sugar Plant to Eastman Kodak, August 1968. Beverly Lane (left); William Frantz (center); Unknown Person (right)
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Welcome Eastman Kodak Sign, August 1968. Harry Ashley (left) and Les Ambrose (right) on Main Street of Windsor, CO.

At its peak, Kodak would employ 3,000 people, in the Windsor location. The transition to digital photography impacted the workforce and the operation was sold to its largest creditor, Kodak Alaris, in 2013.

Next week I’ll continue the Windsor story with images of some of its commercial and governmental buildings.