Emma Malaby Grocery Has Passed First Step to Becoming a Landmark

Image of a false front wood frame building with a front porch, large windows covered with plywood, and a side addition with a door.

On May 5th, 2023, Jim and Carol Burrill donated the Emma Malaby Grocery, along with the entire parcel of land it is on, which includes a stacked plank shed, barn, and well, to Historic Larimer County. The property had been in Jim’s family since 1906, when his great grandfather, Jacob Collamer, purchased the building from Benjamin Whedbee and hauled it to 313 N. Meldrum from N. College Avenue where it had been originally constructed in 1881 as a photography studio for George Wilkins.

On June 21st, Ron Sladek and Meg Dunn, with a few HLC members in the audience including board member, Sharon Danhauer, presented the property at 313 N. Meldrum to the Fort Collins Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) for a recommendation regarding landmarking the property. The HPC can’t designate a property themselves, but they can recommend that City Council designate a property as a local landmark.

The commission said that the nomination had been very thorough and they agreed with the applicants (HLC) that the property is significant in terms of events, people, architecture, and the potential to yield even more historic information in the future. (There are four areas of significance and a property only needs to be significant in one area to be considered a landmark. 313 N. Meldrum was found to be significant in all four! There is only one other property in Fort Collins that is also designated under all four areas of significance.) The vice-chair of the commission even said that he believed the store is worthy of being on the National Register of Historic Places, and he encouraged HLC to consider pursuing that designation as well.

After a very short discussion, the HPC unanimously passed a motion to recommend the Emma Malaby Grocery property to city council as a locally designated historic landmark. It is not yet known when the item will go before the city council, but if you are interested in reading the nomination form, you can find it in the HPC’s agenda from the 21st. The item begins on page 36 and the nomination form starts on page 39.

Press Release: Emma Malaby Grocery Donated to Historic Larimer County!

Minerva Stoneburner stands on the porch of the Frank A. Collamer Grocery. (Photo courtesy of Jim Burrill.)

Jim Burrill, the great grandson of Jacob A. Collamer, and his wife Carol Burrill have donated the 1881 Emma Malaby Grocery that has been in the Collamer family since 1906 to the regional historic preservation advocacy organization, Historic Larimer County. The building was originally constructed in 1881 on N. College Avenue as a photography studio for George T. Wilkins. Wilkins, his wife and daughter all lived as well as worked in the building. From 1900-1906 the building contained a millinery shop and continued to also be used as a residence. In 1906, Jacob A. Collamer purchased the building and hauled it to 313 N. Meldrum near his family home. The Commercial Bank & Trust Company built a new building at 146 N. College, the former site of the photography studio. Once on Meldrum, Jacob Collamer opened the Jacob Collamer Grocery for several years. He passed the store down to his daughter, Emma, and she renamed it the Emma Malaby Grocery.

Historic Larimer County advocates for historic preservation through community-based collaborative projects, education, and interpretation in order to connect people to place. The organization, led by a thirteen-member board representing Fort Collins and Loveland and all of the county’s smaller communities from Estes Park to Wellington and Livermore to Berthoud, has had no headquarters since the organization’s founding in 1988. The Emma Malaby Grocery will become the organization’s headquarters which will include a grocery store museum; displays sharing the stories of the Wilkins, the Collamers, and others who have used the building; an architectural history and preservation library; office and meeting space.

Historic Larimer County began as the Larimer County Historic Alliance in 1988 when a group of local advocates banded together to save the Franz-Smith cabin, now on display in Heritage Park near the old Carnegie Library in Fort Collins. In February 2016, Ron Sladek and Meg Dunn rebooted the organization with an active team of board members from throughout the county. Today Historic Larimer County holds monthly tours or talks, helping residents connect with the wide variety of historic places within our county. The organization also provides training events for municipal leaders, staff, and advocates and provides assistance to owners of historic properties.

In 2014, the building was used as a backdrop in a small, locally made movie called “Forget Me Not,” by Christopher McKee. A trailer for the movie can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/105061660 (Photo from Jim Burrill.) 

2019-2021 In Review

2019 - 2021 in Review

Puttering on Through a Pandemic

After several wonderful tours in 2019, member events were temperarily put on hold as we all learned how to use Zoom and other online meeting applications. Once we got the hang of connecting virtually, member events started back up again. But even while member events had taken a back burner, the board of HLC was still plugging away — assisting in local preservation efforts, advocating for a county-wide preservation ordinance, and responding to concerns from residents throughout the county who have called our attention to at-risk historic sites. 

Historic Larimer County’s annual Member’s Meeting was canceled in 2020, so for the 2021 meeting, a Year-in-Review video was put together that covered two years worth of events and activities. This short video is a great way to get a sense of all that Historic Larimer County does. 

This video was compiled by Meg Dunn with donations of photographs from several HLC members including Ron Sladek, Ken Jessen, Sue Schneider, and others. The Scott Joplin music was downloaded from the Free Music Archive.


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Fort Collins, CO 80522

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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.

2018 – 2019 Year in Review

2018 - 2019 in Review

Getting to Know Larimer County

Our 2018-2019 year began with our first ever Members Meeting in which our first Historic Preservation Award was given to Dave Lingle for lifetime achievement in the field of preservation. 

Historic Larimer County hosted several tours of historic sites, a few of which are either on private property or restricted public places, which made the tours just that much more exclusive and special. 

This video was compiled by Meg Dunn with donations of photographs from several HLC members.  

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Historic Larimer County
PO Box 1909
Fort Collins, CO 80522

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Historic Loveland: Inside & Out

On November 17th, Historic Larimer County hosted a tour of three historic buildings in Loveland’s Downtown Historic District: the First National Bank building (now Desk Chair Workspace), the Lovelander Hotel (now residential housing), and the Rialto Theater. In addition to providing a view into the city’s history, the three buildings also provided a glimpse into three different ways of reusing an older building.

This article is photo-heavy, so it may take awhile to load. Despite the fact that several photos are shared here, taking the tour is far richer in terms of sites, sounds, and information. If you would like to attend an upcoming Historic Larimer County tour or talk, please check out the upcoming events page.

First National Bank, 201 E. 4th Street

First National Bank was built in 1928 at the corner of 4th and Cleveland. The bank was managed by President Hugh Scilley and Vice Presidents D. T. Pulliam and Adolph Donath. In addition to housing a bank, the building also contained professional offices for lawyers, accountants and dentists. The bank remained in this location for 35 years before moving to a new location at 235 E. 6th Street in 1963. The Larimer County administrative offices then moved in and remained until 1990 when Interweave Press moved in and remodeled the building. Now housing Desk Chair Workspace, the interior of the building blends the historic with high-end modern details.

As described in a historical survey completed in 2003,..

The First National Bank building is an example of the Classical Revival style of architecture. The First National Bank building has a distinctive façade, unlike any other in Downtown Loveland. Centered on the north elevation is a very large arched entryway framed by massive tapered pilasters and ornate Corinthian capitals. A “capital” is the head or crowning feature of a column or pilaster. Above the entry way and tapered pilasters is an entablature bearing the words “FIRST NATIONAL BANK.” The Photos #1 (left), #2 (center), and #3 (right). Examples of Classic Revival architecture. Source: Colorado Historical Society Guide to Colorado’s Historic Architecture, 1983. Photo #4. West elevation shows front-block, and lower height rear-block. Photo #5. Primary building material is buff-colored brick. 4 tapered pilasters are faced with large terra-cotta pieces.

The entranceway to the building.

In one corner of a meeting room we were delighted to see the night drop-off vault.

The original high-ceilinged main room had a second story added.

Common areas were artsy with a touch of the historic. In two locations there were ghostly wire people, like visitors from the past.

The original capitals of the interior columns remain as a testament to the lavish interior of the former bank.

Where a rear exterior wall was cut to make a passageway into a back room, the cement was polished. This turned an exposed historic material into an artistic visual delight.

The view from the rooftop patio provides wonderful views of the surrounding Downtown Historic District.

Despite the weather, the group gathered around the front facade to learn more about the architecture of the building.

The Lovelander Hotel

Our second stop on the tour was the Lovelander Hotel. The building has undergone multiple changes over the years, yet it continues to stand as a monument to the importance of Loveland as a resting place for tourists before they would head up to Estes Park in a powerful Stanley Steamer back in the early 1900s. The tour only included the still residential portion of the building (the rest has housed the Elks for a substantial amount of time).

Entering the lobby of the hotel was like stepping back in time. The same old maps adorned the walls that had been there for tourists as they anticipated their vacations up in the mountains.

The building currently provides housing for several working class Loveland residents. Astrid explained that her mission with the building is to provide safe, sound, and quiet housing at an affordable rate. (Learn more at Astride A Starship.)

The part of the building that we toured.

The maps and other odds and ends that tourists would have seen when they entered the hotel.

The downstairs retail space is currently vacant. On the left it’s clear where ceilings were dropped for residential common areas at the back of the retail space.

The dropped ceiling made for an odd “second story” that was too small for regular use. Instead it gave access for utility hookups.

The hallways were cozy. And though we got to tour inside one of the apartments, it didn’t seem appropriate to snap photos there.

The Rialto Theater

The last place we visited was the Rialto theater. The theater was designed by Denver architect Robert K. Fuller (son of Montezuma Fuller of Fort Collins). It was completed in May of 1920. It was built primarily as a silent movie theater with a small orchestra pit in front. It was also used for special events in town such as graduations, town meetings, and recitals.

After under going several changes, including being turned into a mall for a time, the Friend of the Rialto was formed in 1989 with hopes of restoring the building to its former splendor. Beautiful interior and exterior decorations were uncovered and either repaired or, when the damage was too great for repairs, then reproduced in such a way that the new versions were similar the originals with some significant differences to indicate they were newer.

Entering the Rialto.

Ron Sladek, the president of Historic Larimer County, was involved in the renovation of the Rialto, so he gave us a first hand account of what the building looked like before rehabilitation, the process it went through, and how it got to the point it is now.

The sparkling gold of the flower at left indicates that it’s an original. The reproductions were painted to look similar, but the gold was deliberately left off to show they were newer.

The theater. We also got to visit the area under the stage, but it was so cramped that getting a decent photo was difficult.

The whole tour group in front of the Rialto Theater.