The Loomis Addition was one of the first neighborhoods added on to the city of Fort Collins back in 1887. (It includes the area inside Laporte, Whitcomb, Mulberry and Washington on the west side of Old Town.) It contains houses that span almost the entire chronology of the city starting in 1885 and continuing through to today. The bulk of houses built in this area, however, were built before 1910. Another large chunk were added before the Second World War. There are 71 examples of Queen Anne style homes, 78 examples of Classic Cottages, 61 Craftsman Bungalows and Cottages, and 38 Minimal Traditional houses. There is also a scattering of Period Revival homes, American Foursquares, one Italianate and a few specially designed by local architects. (These numbers and terms are from the context that was recently put together by Humstone Consulting regarding the Loomis Addition. I’m going to use some slightly different terms below.)
On Thursday night, Mary Humstone will be talking more about the history and architecture of the Loomis Addition. (See below for details.) But in the meantime, here are a few examples of each type of house that can be found in this neighborhood, just to whet your appetite.
You’ll note that most of these houses represent a very simple form of each style of architecture. If you look online, you can probably find much more elaborate versions of each of these styles. Despite the variety of types of architecture that are represented here, an overarching theme is a characteristic simplicity of form. Those who lived in Fort Collins before us were fairly simple folk. There were some more well-to-do families who built much fancier homes than what you’ll see on this page. But most of those homes were built closer to downtown and several have met the “wrecking ball of progress” (as Wayne Sundberg refers to it).
To say that something is “vernacular” is akin to saying that it’s “home grown.” When using the term in an architectural context, it means that the building was made from local materials by local builders in a style that is usually simple, practical, and rugged. Though the term “cottage” is used many different ways throughout the world, in Northern Colorado a cottage tends to be a one or one and a half story house of fairly simple design.
This house at 616 W. Oak Street is one of the few houses that was built before the Loomis Addition was platted. William Bernheim, the first Jewish man in Fort Collins, owned this corner of the block at one time and he and his family may have lived in this house, which was built in 1885.
Like 616 W. Oak Street shown above, this simple cottage has a gable roof, but the gables face to the sides with the eaves facing forward. The entrance portico (mini-porch) with pediment (the triangular bit) seems to me to be a nod toward Classical Revival architecture.
This is the house that I mentioned in a previous article on the Loomis Addition as regularly having ads in the newspaper for all sorts of odds and ends from fresh pressed cider and special tonic to make your chickens lay more eggs, to various types of furniture and other paraphernalia.
This house has a hipped roof and turned wooden posts supporting a porch (or would you call it a patio?) area.
This cottage looks very similar to 132 N. Loomis, but it has the addition of a decorative gable dormer in front.
Though the front porch was enclosed on this house, you can still see the same basic theme as the previous house. The front porch extends almost the width of the house, the roof is shallow and hipped, and there is a small decorative hip roofed dormer in front.
At this point you may be thinking, enough with the cottages already! But a preponderance of houses in the Loomis Addition are simple cottages. And yet each one has small details that set it off from its neighbors. There are variations in how the porch looks, whether it has a front dormer or not and what style that dormer is, whether the dormer contains a decorative window or just a vent, and so on.
This cottage is a little different in that it’s made a stone rather than wood.
This cottage is also made of stone. And it has the added distinction that Rolland Moore (for whom the park was given its name) was born here.
Queen Anne Victorian
Another very common style in the late 1800s was the Queen Anne Victorian. These houses were generally asymmetrical, had gabled or hipped roofs, and had large 1:1 windows (meaning that one large pane of class hung over another large pane of glass — as compared to windows with several smaller panes of glass grouped together). They also tend to have more decoration than the simple cottages or Craftsman homes.
This is the only example of an Eastlake-style house (which is a variation within the Queen Anne style). It is also sometimes referred to as the “Raffle House.” Mary Humstone explained the story behind this in the context that she wrote on the neighborhood:
Abner Loomis hired contractor H.W. Schroeder to build a six-room, brick Eastlake-style house at 121 North Grant as a speculative house, and offered it in a raffle to anyone who purchased a lot in the addition. The raffle was to be held when 200 lots had been sold, which was accomplished within a year. In a drawing held at the opera house on May 11, 1888, Mr. J. M. Fillebrown of Geneva, Nebraska, was the lucky winner of the $3,000 house. Fillebrown sold the house a few months later to Arthur “Billy” and Alice Patterson for $1,200.
This house has the overall form of a Queen Anne, but it looks at though any decoration it once had on the front gable have been lost to a stucco job along the way.
This house was one of four brick Queen Anne’s in a row that were all built by the same person on South Whitcomb Street. These houses are now part of the South Whitcomb Historic District.
Even the Queen Anne Cottages (1-story rather than 2) are asymmetrical with a decorated front gable and 1:1 windows.
The asymmetry and large porch mark this house as a Queen Anne despite the front gable that isn’t quite as steep as I would expect on a Queen Anne house.
From walking through Old Town, it seems to me like the East Side of the Old Town neighborhoods has many more Foursquares than the west side. There are only 4 in total within the Loomis Addition and they are all within one block of W. Mountain Avenue. You can see by looking at them how they got their name. They are 2-story buildings with a rather square shape and generally four main windows in front.
There is only one house in the Loomis Addition in the Italianate style. Commonalities of the Italianate that we see in 145 N. Loomis Avenue include the height, low-pitched, hipped roof, paired windows, and a small entry porch.
You may have heard the saying that everything old is made new again. Short skirts, dark plastic glasses, beards, bell bottoms… styles come and go and come back again. The same is true with styles in architecture. There are periods were we fall back in love with the styles of the Romans or Greeks or the Tudors. Period Revival architecture is exactly that, reviving architectural elements from a prior period.
This house has a gambrel roof, what I think of as a “barn style” roof. That’s an immediate tip off that this house is in the Dutch Colonial Revival style, which often features gambrel roofs, a porch under overhanging eaves, and dormers.
The only gambrel roofed buildings in the Loomis Addition are all found on Mountain Avenue.
This Colonial Revival house is symmetric with the exception of a chimney and basement window on the right side. The front door is accentuated by being extended forward and framed with columns and highlighted with a railing around a second story porch.
This house stands just across Grant Avenue from the Colonial Revival house at 730 W. Olive Street and bears several of the same distinctives including strong symmetry and an accentuated doorway.
The Craftsman style is known for having exposed wood, knee braces at eaves, deep porches, large porch columns, and “divided upper window lights” (which means that the bottom pain of a window would be a solid piece of glass, but the upper part will house multiple smaller panes of glass).
This house features exposed wood not only as decoration at the top of the gables, but also sticking out under the eaves to the side of the house.
Note the multiple panes of glass at the top of each window and the solid pane underneath.
The clipped (tucked in at the top) gable on either end of this house, as well as over the entranceway, is another common feature in Craftsman houses. The windows also have 4 tall panes of glass on top and a solid pane at the bottom.
This house is listed as a Craftsman style in the Humstone Consulting context, and yet I find it to be a great example of how the vernacular comes into play in these older houses. If all I saw were the windows on this house, I’d immediately call it a Craftsman. But the gable-ended roofline and the portico with pediment (mini-porch with triangular bit on top) remind me of some of the Simple Cottages that we looked at earlier. I think this mixing of styles is a direct result of an owner or builder deciding to follow one building style while adding just a splash of this or that …just because. It’s part of what makes these older houses truly unique to Fort Collins. Although you can go to many American cities and find examples of Craftsman, Italianate, Classic Revival, etc. types of homes, it’s these personalized touches that make this a house that you will only see here, in Fort Collins, on Oak Street.
As the Modern movement took off, streamlining and simplifying styles became in vogue. Fort Collins was already a city of simple houses, and the Minimal Traditional style fit in well with the one story cottages and Queen Annes that already lined the streets.
Minimal Traditional houses often had no, or incredibly simple, ornamentation.
This one story Minimal Traditional has a very understated hipped roof with minimal decoration. Though automobile ownership was becoming increasingly common, attached garages had not yet become the norm.
The Ranch house represents many of the ideals of the Modern Architecture movement. Buildings kept a very low profile in order to merge with natural surroundings. Large plate glass windows featured prominently in the front of the house in order to let in natural light. Natural materials were often used. And there was minimal ornamentation.
The automobile was becoming increasingly common and a single attached garage, visible from the front of the house, was beginning to be included at one end of the ranch or the other.
This was one of the last houses built in the Loomis Addition during its historic period. There were only 2 houses built in the 1960s, 1 in the 70s, 1 in the 80s, and 1 in the 90s. The 21st century is seeing a small resurgence in building as older houses are torn down to make way for new.
Houses with Known Architects
For many of the houses in the Loomis Addition, there is no recorded information regarding architects. Builders are sometimes listed, but it’s possible that they used pattern books or some other pre-made plans to work from. But there are at least three houses within the district where the architect is clearly known.
This house at 614 W. Mountain Avenue was designed by one of Fort Collins’ most prominent architects — Montezuma Fuller.
The house at 616 W. Mulberry Street, often referred to as the Sheldon House, was designed by Arthur Garbutt. But possibly far more interesting is the fact that this house wasn’t originally built in this location. It used to stand at 131 S. Howes Street, where the shorter part of the Key Bank tower is today.
The house at 309 S. Grant Avenue, often referred to as the Forney Mansion because J. D. Forney once lived there, was originally built for Thomas Reinholtz in 1919. Frank Bull designed and built the house.
There are over 300 houses in the Loomis Addition. Many still retain their historic integrity and walking down the street can feel like taking a step back through time.
If you would like to find out more about the history, people, and architecture of the Loomis Addition, please join us on Thursday at 6:30pm at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery for a short presentation and several work tables where you can research the history of your own home (whether it’s within the Loomis Addition or not) and find out more about repairing and maintaining a historic Fort Collins home.
Sources for this article:
I studied math in college, so I’m not an architect and have never studied architecture in a classroom environment. But I’ve voraciously scoured the internet and flipped through architecture books that I picked up off of Amazon and I’ve done my best to accurately categorize each house shown here. I used Mary Humstone’s context of the Loomis Addition as a guide for many of the architectural styles that I have shown here, though I have rearranged a few homes from one category to another based on my own evaluation of the houses. I also used the following websites as reference points:
I found a nice description of “vernacular” at http://www.homebuilding.co.uk/design/design-guides/design-style/vernacular-introduction.
A description of Queen Anne and Italianate styles came from http://www.historicnewengland.org/preservation/your-older-or-historic-home/architectural-style-guide.
I learned more about the Dutch Colonial Revival from http://www.historycolorado.org/oahp/dutch-colonial-revival.
And I used the Field Guide to Colorado’s Historic Architecture & Engineering to make sure I described Craftsman houses correctly. – http://www.historycolorado.org/sites/default/files/files/OAHP/crforms_edumat/pdfs/1625Field.pdf
I changed a few houses from the Minimal Traditional category where Mary had put them, and set them under the Ranch heading instead, based on http://www.antiquehomestyle.com/styles/ranch.htm.
And I picked up information on the architect behind the Sheldon House – http://www.historycolorado.org/sites/default/files/files/OAHP/Guides/Architects_garbutt.pdf – and the original location of the house from – http://history.fcgov.com/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/ph&CISOPTR=33234&CISOBOX=1&REC=4