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 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.

2018 Annual Meeting – May 20th in Fort Collins

HISTORIC LARIMER COUNTY ANNUAL MEETING AND TOUR
MAY 20, 2018, 1:30 PM AT WOLVERINE FARM LETTERPRESS & PUBLICK HOUSE, 316 WILLOW STREET IN FORT COLLINS.

Join us on May 20th at 1:30 pm for our Annual Member Meeting followed by a walking tour of historic Jefferson Street in Old Town, Fort Collins.

Presentations on what Historic Larimer County has accomplished in the past year as well as what the organization will be tackling in the future will be made at 2 pm followed by a presentation of the first annual Historic Larimer County Preservation Award. A short member meeting will take place that will include elections for six board position. And at 3:30 we will head out for a tour of Jefferson Street led by Ron Sladek, who recently completed a survey report that focused on this earliest of Fort Collins street.

Parking is limited and carpooling is encouraged. The nearest parking structure is located at Jefferson and Chestnut next to the new Elizabeth Hotel.

This event is free and non-members are welcome but will not be able to participate in the member meeting. (Though anyone can become a member at the meeting!) If you became a member of Historic Larimer County in, or before, May 2017, you will be asked to renew your membership.

Food and drink will be available for purchase from Wolverine Farm.

Please RSVP so that we know you’re coming!

Rebooted in 2017

Historic Larimer County began its life in 1988 as the Larimer County Historic Alliance. After lying dormant for a time, the organization was resurrected in February 2017 during a meeting of about twenty four individuals gathered at the Loveland Public Library.

Though many preservation organizations have risen and fallen in parts of Larimer County, none seem to last much longer than the original crisis through which they were born. Historic Larimer County hopes to break that pattern. Rather than forming in a time of emergency, the organization was developed with hopes that it will be here for the long haul with a goal of providing education and advocacy around historic preservation — both preserving significant buildings that currently exist as well as advocating for new buildings that will represent our present day well when we look back at them from fifty years in the future.

Northern Colorado’s cultural heritage continues to change and evolve over time. Preserving where we’ve been, and speaking to where we’re going, Historic Larimer County aims to be involved in, and perhaps to help shape, the local conversation around our built environment.