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.

The Graves Camp, a Larimer County Historical Treasure

On April 28th, Ron Sladek led a tour of the Graves Camp in the northeastern part of Soapstone Prairie Natural Area. He covered the history of the site from around 1830, when trappers frequently passed through, all the way up to the present day. What follows are photographs from that tour.


The Graves Camp (Photo by Ron Sladek taken prior to the tour.)

Our tour began with transportation because the road we were standing on began as a trappers’ trail in the 1830s. (Photo by Jennifer Mayan Kaylor.)

The old trapper road which later became the stage line road.

We haven’t made it to the buildings yet because there’s so much interesting history on this property that happened even before the first building was built.

Ron Sladek was our tour guide. He has studied the history of this property for the City of Fort Collins which now owns the land.

This outhouse has seen better days. On the tour we learned that the fact that the seating was diagonal meant that it was likely built using a Works Progress Administration (WPA) design.

The red building behind Ron was used as the cook’s cabin. (Photo by Jennifer Mayan Kaylor.)

The cook’s cabin at the Graves Camp.

Learning about the cook’s cabin.

The cook stove inside the cook’s cabin.

You can barely make out the sign, but it says Warren Live Stock across the top.

Resting while listening to Ron talk about the Warren Livestock Corporation.

This chicken coop was probably moved here from elsewhere. Can you guess what gives away the fact that the building was probably repurposed?

Look at the door latch — creative!

The lambing shed is to the right in this photo and the horse barn to the left.

The lambing shed. It’s huge!

Inside the lambing shed. Lambs in trouble would be transported by “Lambulance.”

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.

Historic Estes Park Tour

On October 23, 2017, Historic Larimer County members enjoyed a personalized tour of historic Estes Park including a visit to the historic Park Theater and the Birch Ruins. The tour was led by Derek Fortini, the director of the Estes Park Museum and one of Historic Larimer County’s board members.

Before beginning the walking tour, Derek Fortini have a brief overview of the history of Estes Park.

In Estes Park, history facts are printed on the sidewalk with chalk.

Plaques throughout downtown tell the story of Estes Park.

The tower on the Park Theater is hollow.

One great thing about a tour is that you find things out that you might not have picked up on without someone telling you. This mark on the sidewalk looks unimpressive, but it’s indicative of the fact that many old Estes Park buildings used to have a second story porch that extended out over the sidewalk.

The Birch ruins were built for a Denver newspaper editor and burned down within months after the stone cabin was built.

There are beautiful views from the ruins.

The Historic Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming

On September 23rd, 2017, Historic Larimer County hosted a tour of The Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming led by long time member and hotel owner, Astrid.

The hotel opened with a grand gala in 1911. Everyone who was anyone in Cheyenne attended the event.

The hotel has 131 rooms and the oldest operating walk-in refrigerator and freezer in any business in America. It’s also a delightful place to stay the night when visiting Cheyenne.

(Photos by Meg Dunn, Ron Sladek, and Jennifer Mayan-Kaylor.)

Astrid, the owner of the Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, gave the Historic Larimer County members and the Cheyenne Westerners members a combined tour of the historic Plains hotel.

The Plains Hotel has a beautiful stained glass ceiling in the lobby.

Astrid pointed out features on the mezzanine.

Close to 50 people attended the tour in Cheyenne.

Ron Sladek tested out the phone booth. Would most kids today have any idea what a phone booth is?

Tour goers got to see a bit of every floor of the hotel including areas guests often aren’t privy to.

Historic Larimer County members even got a grand view of Cheyenne from the rooftop of the hotel.

Historic Larimer County’s executive board members posed for a photo after the tour — Jennifer Mayan Kaylor, Ron Sladek, and Meg Dunn.