Archive for May, 2009

The city of Greeley, 30 miles southeast of here,  just sent letters to Mary Humstone and Rose Brinks. In the letters, the city invokes eminant domain to explore and eventually develop the women’s Laporte properties, just north of Fort Collins.  

But Greeley should be sending them Thank You letters.

That’s because these two women have turned away developers for decades.  Plus, they left pristine and feral a river corridor with a 100-year-old  railbed. They may have thought they were looking after natural and historic resources. But without knowing it, they were preserving a perfect route for Greeley’s  latest  water pipeline.

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Which old houses are worth saving? And how far should we go to save them? Two Fort Collins’ bloggers are now starting to explore these questions:  One using research and one using very big trucks.


 Terrence Hoaglund, an architect and board member on the Landmarks Preservation Commission, will document Fort Collins homes from 1960s to present. He’s trying to help answer the question, “What’s worth saving?” when it comes to mid-century and later architecture.

Does everything over 50 years old deserve historic designation? Even if there are a hundred more just like it?

Here’s the first post in the series, Interesting Historic Dilemma.

Big trucks

 Jim Burrill plans to move this  historic farmhouse from north Loveland to a property in Old Town, Fort Collins. I think it’s going right up College Avenue–a guaranteed spectacle.  Follow the move here as Jim wrangles with preservation committees, movers, and others.

And while you’re there, take a look around at  his family photographs. His kin have been in Fort Collins a very long time.

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Funny how some scandals and characters become part of the local canon. Prostitutes, horse thieves,  and bootleggers make the Senior Voice and “I remember when …” columns year after year.

But others never pass the quaint test, no matter how much time passes. Which is why you’ve probably never heard about what happened at CSU’s Music Department in 1952. 

In that year, four men turned up gay. The details are sketchy, but one of my sources says all four were music faculty and generalizes that “the whole department was gay.”

Another source says maybe not the whole department. At least the department chair, Gregory Bueche, was straight. In fact, he was horrified to find his faculty teeming with men who do with men.

I can’t tell you how the scandal surfaced, or even if anyone admitted to being gay. But I do know it went to court, with Fancher Sarchet representing the defendents. His daughter, Doris Bice, remembers that the men were charged with homosexuality.

“In those days that was against the law,” she says.

She also remembers Sarchet’s personal view. “He said they were good as any other upstanding citizen,  and their preferences were nobody’s business.”

But others in town remember differently. Some say the men were innappropriate with their students.  Kids who took lessons would remember a touch on the shoulder and wonder if it meant more.  Parent’s began to warn their children about a new kind of danger.

To find the truth, you would have to dig up the court records–something I may do yet. 

“Did Sarchet win the case?” I asked Doris.

“Yes,” she says. But winning in those days meant that instead of jail, two got to leave town and a third was committed to a state mental hospital in Pueblo. 

Yearbook before and after

Before the scandal, the band director would sit in uniform every year with the CSU band honor society, kappa kappa psi,  for a college yearbook picture.

CSU kappa kappa psi's, 1952

CSU kappa kappa psi's, 1952

In the years after their director left, the kappas still sat for the photo, but now in ordinary suits and ties and with the newly appointed director Mr. D.N. Peitersen,

And in those first years, a picture of Mrs. D.N. Peitersen also appeared,  just a few inches away.

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I’m seeing a little extra traffic on Lost Fort Collins blog today from the Coloradoan.

In the paper’s opinion section, Carol Tunner (who is a local history preservationist for the city, if you didn’t already know that) asks What’s the deal with the little blue building. It’s in the alley behind Walnut Street and thought to be the old drunk tank.

Peter Fisk commented, “Lost Fort Collins might know.” Thus the extra visitors here today. 

But I don’t know. I’ve asked around too. And the museum asked me a few weeks ago too. 

Best I can do for now is show you a couple pictures I had vaulted on my Flickr page. And tell you I’ve heard a tunnel leads from the old fire station to this building. But I’ve never seen it.

Blue jailhouse.

Blue jailhouse.


Jailhouse with Graffitti, now painted over.

Jailhouse with graffiti, now painted over.

But maybe one of you knows something? Even stories unrelated to the prison years are interesting to Lost Fort Collins. Know anything?

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I’m kind of picky about historic sites. If it’s been fully interpreted and restored, yay. But I probably won’t come back. And I won’t even go in if I have to buy a ticket and wait my turn.

I like sites that aren’t sites yet. Or that haven’t been fussed over much. And most of all, I like sites where staff  leaves me alone but then give me immediate attention when I have questions. 


Arrowhead Lodge

Arrowhead Lodge, built in the 1930s. Photo sometime before 1970

And so it was that I visited the Arrowhead Lodge, 45 miles up the canyon (Poudre, that is. Colorado’s Trout Route).  The lodge closed in 1984, and it’s a Visitor’s Station for the Forest Service now. It’s a few days before its official season opening, but the staff  said I could look around, and then sent me off.


Prisoners cleaning up grounds.

Prisoners cleaning up grounds.

 There are a dozen cabins around back. Most  trashed, but two are restored to their rustic 1950s glory. The doors were unlocked …

"Hopi" cabin

"Hopi" cabin

…so I went in.

Only interpretive fakery: Painted wood or plaster mattress and pillows

Only interpretive fakery: Painted wood or plaster mattress and pillows

And I also hiked through the brush to the old fireplace and the wind power plant. 

Lost windmill fed bank of batteries. Meant lights out around 9pm most nights.

Electricity house. Lost windmill fed bank of batteries. Meant lights out around 9pm most nights.

…which anybody would have told me, had I allowed anybody to accompany me, is an excellent way to draw ticks in May. 

After my lookaround, I grilled a Forest Service guy about the economic outlook of resort lodges in mid-century Larimer County and the likely activities of anyone who visited there. 

In short, it was my ideal perfect historic site visit.  Don’t let the parasites and chain gangs deter you–Recommended.

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Correspondence from a reader: 

 Dear Lost Fort Collins,

Dorms under construction 1967

Dorms under construction 1967

Thank you for your site – As I sit many miles and years away from the “Fort” it’s almost like traveling back in time – A couple of things that a lot of people will remember is where Moby gym and the 10 story dorms are in the 50’s were the city’s Little League fields. We lived near the fields so it was easy to get to practices and games in a hurry – the number of foul balls that were hit across Laurel is amazing—when they decided to build the gym I remember going every Sunday with my dad and “checking” the status of the building.

I get home about once a year but it seems like everything has changed so much since I graduated in 1969 and left town to travel the world—

 John Tobin

Dear John,


Norm Cook, whose memories make up much of the content of Lost Fort Collins, tells me that he got his first speeding ticket from a judge with your name.


CSU, 1975      



That would be my dad—my favorite story about the Judge is around 1964 65 when the HIPPIE phase was just starting up at CSU—dad had a guy in court and told him to either cut his hair or come back to court with pink ribbons – he of course did neither — but heard the case because he at least cleaned the hair mess up.

Tell Norm he is not the only one—I was going to school at Adams State and was told by the judge and police chief not to come into town during College Days or I would be arrested and held all weekend – needless to say I found something else to do that weekend

Photos from http://www.fcgov.com/archive

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