Harper Goff House

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

Norman Fry and the Poudre Canyon

Historic Larimer County has received permission to share a video on Norman Fry and his life in the Poudre Canyon. Here’s Sue Schneider, one of our board members, to introduce this 40-minute film.

Welcome to Norman Fry Country!  Watching this video you will learn all about Norman Fry, who came to the upper Poudre Canyon in 1889 at the age of 17.  I was lucky enough to grow up in the first place Norman Fry called home when he arrived in America.  My family acquired the property, “Pinehurst” in 1893 when my great-great uncle, AW Scott purchased it in a tax sale.  It has remained in our family ever since, and now the Abbott Family Trust of Pinehurst maintains the property and works to preserve a small bit of history.


I would Ike to thank Tim Mikkelsen, videographer, for his long hours filming and editing to make this video possible.  I’d also like to thank my lifetime friend, Sandra Lundt, for getting me involved in preserving and presenting the history of the upper Poudre Canyon and for her help in putting this video together.  Enjoy!

Sign installed in front of Montezuma Fuller House

The Montezuma Fuller house at 226 W. Magnolia in Fort Collins, Colorado.

In 1890, Fort Collins architect Montezuma Fuller started designing a new house for his growing family. Construction began in 1894 and the house at 226 W. Magnolia St. was completed the following year. The house features elements of the Queen Anne style, with Eastlake ornamentation across the facade. In 1976 Fuller’s house was honored with a historic marker as part of the Fort Collins’s Centennial and the Nation’s Bicentennial. But in 2014 (or thereabouts) the sign was stolen by vandals. A few years later, the new owners of the property contacted the City of Fort Collins Historic Preservation Department about getting a new sign. The City does not have a sign program, so they referred the owners to Historic Larimer County.

The 1976 before it was removed by vandals.

The goal of Historic Larimer County’s sign program is to provide markers throughout the county that will be similar in style and format (making them easily recognizable, even from a distance) that will help residents and tourists alike learn more about the history of our Northern Colorado communities.

The program has been a little slow getting started, in large part because the original plan to have the signs cast in zinc turned out to be financially prohibitive. After a year of exploring options, HLC president Ron Sladek suggested visiting Reprographics, on Fort Collins’ east side.

New sign in a 1976 base.

The new sign is printed, not cast, which not only means it can include color, but it’s also significantly cheaper than a zinc or bronze sign would be. Though it may not last as long (There is concern about fading over time.) the cost of printing the sign was so minimal that it could easily be updated and replaced frequently and still remain cheaper than having a zinc sign cast. That said, this is a test case and we’ll monitor the sign to see how it performs in sunlight.

Dani Grant and Matt Hoeven, the owners of the Montezuma House, posed for an impromptu photo with the new sign.

If you’d like to check out the sign in person, head towards the downtown post office, which is located on the block right next door. Just to the east of the Magnolia/Howes intersection is a green apartment building (which was also built by Montezuma Fuller). The next house over is the home that M. W. Fuller built for his family in 1894. The house is now home to the offices of Chipper’s Lanes, The Mishawaka, and the Aggie Theater.

Historic Timnath

On Saturday, July 13th, about 40 people (including several kids) met up at the Swetsville Zoo. There our tour of historic Timnath began. Bill Swets, who grew up on the farm there, took us on a tour of the property beginning with an 1860s cabin and ending with a 10-seater tandem bicycle. From there we headed over to old downtown Timnath where we toured the Presbyterian church, saw two historic school buildings, learned about several of the old buildings downtown, and finally got a tour of the inside of the old mill building. Afterwards several members of the party grabbed some food and beers in the Timnath Beerwerks.

A crowd of people stand around with two at center - a man wearing overalls and a cap and a woman in pioneer garb.

Ron Sladek introduced Bill Swets and Diane to the group. Bill grew up on the farm. His parents had been missionaries in Alaska, but as WWII got underway and they had a little one (Bill) they decided to move to safety in northern Colorado. Ironically, just a few years later the Japanese rigged up bombs to balloons and one made its way all the way across the western United States and landed in a field on the Swets Farm, south of where we were standing in this photo.

The front porch of a house peaks out from behind overgrown foliage.

Bill Swets grew up in this house. It was originally a homesteaders cabin, built by Thomas Cline in the 1860s along the Poudre river.

The deteriorating front porch of a house with paneling pulled away to reveal a cabin underneath.

The Swets family moved into the cabin, which had been covered with siding, and added on to the house over the years. (You can see the original cabin in this photo where the siding has been pulled away.) Bill said that there’s been a bee hive in the fireplace for as long as he can remember.

Two metal dinosaurs stand on hind legs overlooking Harmony avenue.

Bills first metal creation was the dinosaur to the right in this photo. These two used to overlook Harmony road, but the elevation of the road has since changed.

A quonset hut painted white has gold topped turrets on the far end.

When Colorado A&M was dismantling the Veterans Village housing on campus, Bill snapped up five of the quonset huts that had been used by G.I.s attending school. This is one of those quonsets. (Just before walking past the quonsets we saw the milking barn where Bill grew up milking four cows at a time with a machine. He said he doesn’t miss those days.)

Two metal dinosaurs pull a tank labeled "Ancient Oil Co."

History on the Swets Farm is both real and mythical.

A purple car-creature with red eyes sits inside a garage.

Though many of Bill Swets’ creations are out on view for all to see, there are some that are stored away that we were able to view, like this purple articulated car creature.

People stand around inside a garage looking at the back of a metal car-creature.

This is the back-side of the articulated purple car-creature.

White roadster.

This was another car in with the purple car-creature.

Close up of a Zimmer car.

Bill showed off his Zimmer car. We were all so impressed that he agreed to drive it out of the shed so we could get a better view.

A man in overalls and a woman in pioneer garb stand in front of a Zimmer car and two houses.

Bill and Diane posed in front of the Zimmer.

Several altered bicycles line a shed.

And last, but not least, is this 10-seater tandem bicycle created by Bill. There’s a great photo in the CSU archives of several professors trying out this bike by the pond on campus.

A covered wagon sits in a grassy clearing.

Then we headed over to the Presbyterian church in Timnath. It was the original pastor of this church that named the town after the town where Joshua settled in the Promised Land (Joshua 19:50).

A stone church covered in stucco and painted white, with a boxy steeple.

The brick church is now covered in stucco. One of the pastors in the 1970s created most of the stained glass windows.

Stained glass window of God's hand reaching down, a dove and lamb, and the Alpha and Omega.

The yellow in the upper corners was the glass that fit in the windows before the pastor remade them. He integrated several pieces of glass that had been in the church before or that he found in a shed out back.

A cross hangs on a white wall with a painting of a vine behind it.

After an explosion occurred on the street next to the church, a crack formed on the back wall of the sanctuary with some bricks exposed. A member of the congregation painted a vine along the crack. After the wall was repaired and repainted later, everyone wanted the vine to be redrawn (with painted bricks as well) to continue to remind them of God’s mercy to the congregation.

A brick building had a central entrance with three windows to either side and a tower for a bell at top (though the bell is missing).

This brick school was built in 1909.

This is the consolidated school which served kindergarten through 12th grade until it was outgrown, at which time it became Timnath’s elementary school. It was built in 1919.

This was the first bank in Timnath.

This building was Lund’s store, a grocery store. The post office was also located here.

The old mill is now a brewery. This is where our tour ended.

The Columbine Club of Timnath has an online walking tour of downtown. So if you didn’t get a chance to join us, but would like to see these buildings for yourself, check that out — http://www.timnathhistory.org/walkingtour.html.

The Bingham Hill Cemetery and Historic Bingham Farm

On July 6th, Historic Larimer County hosted a two part tour. We started out at the Bingham Hill Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Larimer County, where Judy Jackson shared the history of the cemetery itself as well as that of several people who have been buried there. Next we headed over Bingham Hill to the historic Bingham Farm where Ron Sladek gave us a tour of a surprisingly intact farm complex complete with original homesteading cabin, a house designed by local architect Montezuma Fuller, a very old barn and silo, and much more. The Bingham Farm is private property, so this was a wonderful opportunity to see a historic place with permission from the owner. What follows are photographs from the Bingham Hill Cemetery and Bingham Farm tour.

Judy Jackson tells about Rose Brinks's book about the history of the cemetery and the people that were buried there.

Judy Jackson is holding a copy of Rose Brinks’ book in this photo. The cemetery is on Rose’s property and no one had every recorded who was buried there. So Rose spent several years reading through newspapers and interviewing people and has documented as many people that have been buried in the cemetery as she could.

A crowd of people stand in a clearing surrounded by trees. The grass is green and only a few headstones can be seen.

The tour group stand around Judy as she gives the story of the cemetery. The resent rains which caused the original tour to be delayed also gave us a beautiful green setting for this tour.

Judy Jackson stands beside a marker put up in the 1980s.

Judy stopped to tell us about a marker that was set up in the cemetery in the 1980s to honor those for whom there was no other marker who had been buried there. (Many early markers were made of wood and have long since disintegrated.)

Several older and newer gravestones stand surrounded by a stone or cement wall in the cemetery.

When a stone becomes so broken and fragile that it can no longer be repaired, money is raised to purchase a new stone. The old stone is retained so people can see the original, but the new stone enables visitors to read the original inscription. As much as possible designs and text on the new stones is identical to the original.

Judy stands surrounded by the tour group with headstones in the foreground.

Every stone tells a story, which Judy shared with our group.

A white sign on two metal poles states that this is the Bingham Hill Cemetery.

All of the work that is done to maintain the cemetery and repair or replace broken or stolen items is done by volunteers. This sign for the cemetery was the work of a couple of volunteers as well.

Field with a green tree to the left and in the background. White stones and crosses dot the landscape.

The Bingham Hill Cemetery is away from the road and set in a pastoral setting, which could be why it is such a well beloved cemetery in the area. People come from all over the world to visit, as documented in the guest books that have been maintained for decades by Rose and Judy.

A wood frame barn stands precariously over a cut stone foundation.

This barn on the Bingham Farm can be seen from the road. What can’t be seen is that when a nearby barn was pulled down, the entire back wall of this barn went with it and is currently completely open to the field behind it.

A circle of stones with a doorway stands amid green grass with a cement trough to the left side.

This stone circular structure was the base of a water tank. The water could easily be poured into the trough to the left.

A wood frame barn stands at left with a brick crenelated silo to the right.

The barn and silo make a picturesque image.

Two mostly white horses look warily at the photographer from behind a metal fence.

These two horses were curious what we were up to. Either that, or they had some history they were hoping to share with us.

Ron Sladek points to a stone building with a wooden door.

Ron Sladek pointed out the old milk barn which looks like a one story structure, but it was built into a hill with a second story beneath what’s shown here.

A wood frame 2-story building that is wider than it is tall stands amid a grassy lawn.

The original one story cabin is still located within this building to the lower right. Three more additions were added over time including the second story. The siding was added some time in the early 1900s.

Wood beams to the left form a log cabin with an addition consisting of beams and boards wedged together.

This is a close up of the back side of the older house where the original cabin beams can be seen at left and an oddly “grouted” addition can be seen to the right.

A four square brick house with a hipped roof and a wide, deep porch stands behind trimmed bushes.

This house was designed by famed local architect Montezuma Fuller.

 stone wall stands over a field.

The advantage of being on a tour like this was that things that looked like one thing actually turned out to be something else. Most of us had just assumed that this wall was set up over a lower field to keep horses in. It was odd that the ground on one side of the wall was higher than another, but we didn’t give it much thought. But Ron pointed out that there used to be a barn in this location and the “stone wall” was actually the foundation of that building. When he passed around an old photo of the property, it was one of those “ah ha!” moments when an oddity suddenly made a whole lot of sense.

A pastoral seen with a dirt road heading off into the distance at left with a tree beside it and a grassy field to the right.

This was another “No way!” moment. Ron took us to see what looked like a normal old field with a normal old irrigation ditch running through it. But what we didn’t realize was that the hill to the left was actually where the old Greeley, Salt Lake, and Pacific train line ran on its way to Stout.