This property first appeared in the historic record in October 1879, when all of the vacant land in block 106, along with several of the surrounding blocks, were sold for $3,500 by Alice and Arthur Patterson to James Harrison. In March 1881, Harrison filed a plat for Harrison’s Addition with the Larimer County clerk’s office. The addition occupied the six square blocks bordered by Mulberry Street on the north, Laurel Street on the south, College Avenue on the east, and Meldrum Street on the west. It was also located just north of the small but growing campus of Colorado Agricultural College, now known as Colorado State University.
In September 1881, Harrison sold Lot 8 in Block 106 for $200 to John A. McCoy, about whom nothing is known. One year later, in November 1882, he sold the south half of the lot to Bessie Graham for $125. Bessie was the wife of Guy Graham, both of them immigrants from Ireland. Prior to their arrival in Fort Collins, they lived for years in Esopus, New York, where Guy was a boat captain on the Hudson River. In Fort Collins, they resided in a home on Peterson Street and Guy initially worked as a day laborer and later became a landlord. Bessie held on to the vacant lot on Howes Street for a full decade before selling it in late 1892. She died five months later, in May 1893, and was buried in Grandview Cemetery. Guy lived until 1909 and was also laid to rest there.
Bessie Graham sold the lot on Howes Street at the end of December 1892 for $200 to prominent Fort Collins architect Montezuma Fuller, about whom much has been written. Key to the property on Howes Street is the fact that Fuller was not only designing buildings during this time period but was also investing heavily in properties, including vacant lots. The low purchase price for Lot 8 indicates that it was still vacant at that time. Just over one month later, in February 1893, he transferred it to his wife, Anna Eliza Fuller, along with a number of additional properties in town. Anna held on to the lot on Howes Street through the end of the decade before selling it to a new owner. There is no evidence that the Fullers developed the property during their period of ownership throughout the 1890s.
In August 1899, Anna Fuller sold the south half of Lot 8 to Carl Anderson for a purchase price of $275, again providing evidence that the property was still vacant. By that time, Anderson was the principal stockholder, president and general manager of the Courier Printing & Publishing Company, which produced the Fort Collins Courier newspaper and provided job printing services to the community. Born in 1872 in St. Charles, Iowa, the son of a newspaper owner, he learned the printer’s trade and became a travel writer for a railroad. After attending the University of Mississippi, he moved west to Colorado intending to purchase the Loveland Reporter. However, that deal fell through and instead he acquired a majority of stock in the Courier Printing & Publishing Company of Fort Collins, which he took control of in early 1899.
On 26 April 1900, the Fort Collins Courier printed a small item of local interest informing its readers that work was about to commence on the construction of a $2,000 brick residence on South Howes Street for Carl Anderson. At that time, he was living in a rental house on East Mulberry Street, which he shared with his sisters Maude and Pearle. Elizabeth Maude was employed as advertising manager of the Courier Printing & Publishing Company and Clara Pearle was a student in her early teens. The new house rose over the following months and was completed in time for the Anderson siblings to move in during the second week of August. In a second small article published on 9 August 1900, the newspaper described the “eight room brick” house as a “handsome” building. No information was provided by the newspaper regarding who might have designed and built the house. While it may have been the work of architect Montezuma Fuller, a thorough search of historic records from the time period uncovered no evidence of his involvement in the project.
When the house at 612 South Howes Street was constructed, it was designed with two entrances, one for the owners and another providing access to a separate residential unit for tenants. The first tenant in the home was Mrs. E. M. Smith, who resided there around 1901. A subsequent tenant around 1903 was Ralph Parshall, who at the time was a student at Colorado Agricultural College. Parshall received his B.S. in civil and irrigation engineering and went on to a notable career as a professor and director of the Division of Irrigation with the US Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service. He invented the Parshall Flume, a device for measuring running water in ditches that spread across the world. Years later, Parshall was involved in planning for the Colorado-Big Thompson project. Throughout the 1900s and 1910s, the rental space in the house continued to be occupied by a series of students.
The Anderson siblings lived together in the house at 612 South Howes Street throughout the first decade of the twentieth century, and at some point it appears that Maude acquired a one-half interest in the property. However, this changed during the summer of 1909. In late June of that year, Carl married Genora Evans and they moved into a house of their own on West Oak Street. A few days later, on the first day of July, Maude married a man by the name of Ralph Algene Goff. Born in 1882 in Missouri, by the late 1890s Ralph had moved west with his family to Colorado City west of Colorado Springs, where his father worked as a lumber dealer. Around 1906, he moved to Fort Collins and worked for the Newton Lumber Company before taking a bookkeeper position with the J. V. Barker Mercantile Company. He also had a fine tenor voice and became known in the local music community. On Ralph and Maude’s wedding day, Carl transferred his one-half ownership in 612 South Howes Street to his sister, who became the property’s sole owner.
Following their wedding ceremony, which took place in the house on South Howes, Ralph and Maude honeymooned in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. Back in Fort Collins, they settled into the house and Ralph became involved with the family publishing business. He essentially stepped into Maude’s positions as secretary and advertising manager. Although the Courier was sold in 1916, Ralph continued on as its secretary-treasurer and superintendent. In June 1913, the home served as the venue for another family wedding, this time of Jesse J. Jones and Clara Pearle Anderson, the younger sister of Carl and Maude. Pearle graduated from the State Teachers’ College in Greeley and had been employed as a Fort Collins kindergarten teacher. Jesse was involved with a family contracting business known as Jones & Son. Following the wedding, they resided in a house at 221 West Mulberry Street.
On 16 March 1911, the Goffs welcomed the arrival of what would turn out to be their only child, a boy they named Ralph Harper. Known by his middle name, he spent his first decade of life in the house on South Howes and would later become one of Fort Collins’ most renowned native sons. In 1920, Ralph retired from the publishing business as the company came under new ownership again with consolidation of the town’s two primary newspapers, the Courier and the Express. The Goffs left Fort Collins and moved to Santa Ana, California, where Ralph became a merchant. He died in 1924 and was buried in that city’s Fairhaven Memorial Park. Maude took on sales jobs and then opened a women’s clothing store in the mid-1930s. She died in 1956 and was buried in the same cemetery as her husband.
Between 1931 and 1934, Harper attended the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. In 1935, he married Florence Newcom and began to secure work as an illustrator for prominent publications including Esquire, Collier’s and National Geographic. Harper was employed from around 1935 to 1948 as a movie set designer at the Warner Brothers studio, working on films such as Casablanca, Sergeant York, and The Charge of the Light Brigade. During World War II, he developed paint schemes for camouflage used by the Army and Navy. In 1951, Harper had a chance meeting with Walt Disney in a London model train store and was offered a job with Disney’s production company. Accepting the offer, he went to work for Disney Studios as an art director and production designer. One of his most notable projects there was the 1954 film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, for which he designed the Nautilus submarine.
When Walt Disney launched the development of Disneyland in the early 1950s, Harper Goff became one of the project’s primary designers, or “imagineers.” He is credited with having designed Main Street USA along with the Jungle River Cruise. One of Harper’s main sources of inspiration for the look and feel of Main Street USA came from his memories of growing up in Fort Collins, when he was living in the house at 612 South Howes Street. Harper remained active professionally into the 1970s, working on the Dragnet television series and providing art direction for the films Fantastic Voyage and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He was also involved in the design of EPCOT’s World Showcase in Orlando. Harper died in 1993 in Palm Springs and was buried adjacent to his grandfather in Colorado Springs’ Evergreen Cemetery.
In 1956, the Comstocks sold the home to John and Harriett Toliver, who owned the property for the next twenty-two years. During the late 1950s, the house was occupied by two tenants. The primary residence housed Robert and Lois Richards. He was a supervisor and service foreman with the Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Company. A college student by the name of Everette Stockwell occupied the secondary unit. The Tolivers appear to have first occupied the home in the early 1960s and remained there for many years. John was a sales clerk and then officer of the Toliver-Kinney Mercantile Company, a downtown hardware store. They appear to have rented the second unit in the house to students. The Tolivers held onto the property until 1978, when they sold it to local developer and property investor Lester Kaplan, who intends to add a duplex in the back yard.
Source: Architectural Inventory Form by Ron Sladek of Tatanka Historical Associates, Inc. Prepared for the City of Fort Collins