Fort Collins is no Mecca of architecture, and yet we do have a nice array of styles, ages, and artistry represented in our built environment. Some of these cultural artifacts have met the wrecking ball and are with us only in faded photographs and stories. But others still stand, and continue to be used today. The more we know about our architectural resources, the more we’ll appreciate what we have as a community.
Though buildings are owned by individuals or organizations, by their nature they are also, in a way, owned communally in the sense that they embody the history and culture of our community. When a building of import is knocked down or substantially changed, the effect falls not only upon the owner, but upon all who live, work, shop, or play around that building. There is an interconnectedness between ourselves and our built environment that transcends ownership. That relationship is often referred to as “a sense of place.”
Having a sense of place adds authenticity to an area. Although buildings in other cities might share similar adornments, building materials, and overall styles, if you were to see a picture of the Old Firehouse, the old Linden Hotel or even the Key Bank building, you’d know immediately that you were looking at a photo of a Fort Collins building because they are unique to our community.
My goal in this post is to give a sense of the breadth of our historic Fort Collins architecture. I won’t be able to cover every building that fits within a specific style of architecture. And for each building I mention, there is soooo much more I could dig into in terms of style, history, succession of owners, etc. But we’re going to have to save all that for another day. Today’s post is going wide, not deep, and will include very brief descriptions with lots and lots of photos. It will hopefully be a feast for the eyes and a chance to revel in the sense of place that makes up our Fort Collins.
The Northern Hotel underwent a remodel in 1924 that gave it the Art Deco facade we know today. I would include the old Forestry building at 148 Remington in the list of Art Deco buildings. And the house across from Rocky Mountain High School that I mentioned in my recent West Central Neighborhoods post is also Art Deco. You’ll note that they look somewhat different from each other, even though I’m grouping them all under the same style. Within each umbrella style are distinct sub-categories. I’ll be lumping buildings into more general umbrella categories.
Bungalows are a popular style of architecture in Old Town. Several new developments in town have borrowed from this style including the Bennett Road Bungalows (right across from the school) and the Bellweather Farm neighborhood off of West Vine Drive.
Dutch Colonial Revival
The house that Abner Loomis (for whom the Loomis Addition and Loomis Avenue are named) built in 1885 was also in the Italianate style, but that house was razed to make room for a large Safeway building. A future post will talk about some of the beautiful buildings that Fort Collins has lost to the wrecking ball. But if you can’t wait, Wayne Sundberg has a video that’s available through the Poudre River Public Library District entitled The Wrecking Ball of Progress. I highly recommend it.
The Queen Anne style is what people often mean when they use the term “Victorian” to describe architecture. (“Victorian” is an umbrella term that covers several styles of architecture.) As you can tell from the description of the house above, even within in the subgroups of “Victorian” are further subgroups.
Second Empire or Mansard Style
Spanish Colonial Revival
This post only skims the surface of Fort Collins’ architectural heritage. Some forms of architecture are no longer available to view in our town because the only buildings that bore those styles have been torn down and replaced with new construction or parking lots. There are also several newer, and yet still historic, styles, that I wasn’t able to cover in this post. (The Key Bank building and the Wells Fargo Building at College and Magnolia come to mind.)
Fort Collins grew out of humble beginnings. Though several building forms have been represented here, most are simplified versions of the style. As the city grows both in size and wealth, some of these architectural styles are seeing renewed favor, yet you may notice that the new buildings are often more complex than the older versions. In this way, even when similar styles are made new again, the older buildings still embody a previous time and circumstance for our city. These buildings are tangible artifacts of our city’s origins and growth. Preserving them enables us to literally walk among the history of our city.
|Next week we’ll be looking forward to the grand opening of the MAX transit system and the Bike Library at the Downtown Transit Center. But here at Forgotten Fort Collins we’ll also be looking back to what Mason street used to look like in days gone by.
Sources for this article:
I used History Colorado’s list of Colorado architecture as the framework for this post. If you’d like to learn more about specific styles of local architecture, this would be a good place to start.
I used several resources for information about building dates, styles, and original owners. I pulled most heavily from the architectural histories that are posted on the Fort Collins History Connection website. I specifically used the articles covering 1877-1900, 1900 – 1919, and 1919 – 1941. I occasionally referred to the Larimer County Assessor website. And I perused the nomination forms for the Old Town History District ( National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Old Town Fort Collins – pdf) and the Whitcomb District (document on file with Fort Collins Planning, Development & Transportation Services).
Information on Zoric Nu-Life Laundry (210 E. Oak) from the Larimer County Waterways website.
In the Hallowed Halls of Learning (pdf), a history of the schools in the Poudre School District, gave added information regarding the old Fort Collins High School.
Getting to Know Fort Collins (pdf), is a neat little document detailing the architecture of several of Fort Collins prominent landmarks. I used it to get information on the old First Baptist church at the corner of Remington and Magnolia.
I was able to view a part of Thomas J. Noel’s book, Guide to Colorado Historic Places: Sites Funded by the State Historical Fund, thanks to Google Books. I used this to get a little more back ground info. on the Fort Collins Power building.
Colorado Info. has a handy flyer that lists several historic downtown buildings.
Additional Resources Worth Checking Out:
Cat’s Lost Fort Collins post about the WPA Fountain at the old Fort Collins Power Plant. Also a post by Cat, here’s one on the Poudre Valley Creamery Building. I sure miss Cat’s posts on Lost Fort Collins.
Maggie previously wrote about her visit to the Avery House: Tour the home of Franklin and Sarah Avery. She also has a great post on the history of the German churches: Germans from Russia’s Churches, and their Congregations Today
History Colorado has a biography of Montezuma Fuller that includes a list of all the buildings he was involved in building.
And this History Colorado document lists several historically landmarked buildings within Larimer county.