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You may have read recently that the old Armory building on East Mountain Avenue is being refurbished again. This time, says owner Paul Jenson, he wants to return it to its 1907 roots as a public event hall.

Last week, one of the contractors on the project, Jeff Down, took me on a tour of the building:

Here’s the front of the building (above). Those who take historic surveys would have you note the crenelated roof line, which gives it a fortress-like appearance appropriate for National Guard Armory.

They would also tell you the architect was a Mr. Garbutt. And when you get over that, they would tell you that Garbutt (stop it) also designed the Commercial Bank and Trust (which would later become The Vault–that bar on North College with the safe still in it).

But let’s go inside the Armory…

When Jensen says he wants to return the hall to its public use roots, he means banquets, weddings. Probably dances and concerts.

I do not think he means boxing and roller skating. That’s how our predecessors used the space. Before it became a laundry. Look at that floor!

Now look up.

Now go to the balcony and look down. Jeff’s company (Down Zankey) built this staircase to the basement when Jensen first moved in. Jensen had his OneTribe Creative here for the past several years. That’s why the newer details are all so hip and cool.  I mean, thick-rimmed glasses neoMadMen  I-wish-I-were-that-cosmopolitan, black-haired cool.

Here’s the back room. Jeff’s biggest concern that day was getting enough air into the hall for a crowd to breath adequately. He’ll do that by pumping it in through the roof back here.

Cool details in the basement include old stone work and wavy bricks. Originally, National Guard practiced target shooting down here.

And apparently they kept the livestock here as well. Jeff says these are the original  livery doors. Down Zankey moved them to complete a stone conference room in the basement.

The hall is available for rent starting in March. This couple was here  exploring the space for an April wedding.

Credit

You can read more about it in the Coloradoan article (for as long as the paper keeps the article available).

You can call Amy or Paul to talk about booking the Armory Event Hall at 223-4012.

You can have Down Zankey put more air or light in your house, build you a bitchen industrial staircase, or fix up just about anything else construction related by contacting them through their web site at: http://www.downzankey.com.

As for me, I’m still leaving, and I’m still waiting to meet with Lost Fort Collins new guy to hand it all off. Very soon…

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Writing Lost Fort Collins has been a load of fun. In fact, it’s been an obsession. But lately,  just about every part of my life has changed. My work is drying up, my family is transitioning, and I’m ready for some change.

So, I’m moving on. To Bismarck, North Dakota, of all places.

But before I go, let me say this: It is an honor to be read, and especially to have others participate in my enthusiasm. Many of you told stories, asked questions, sent photos, or offered up ideas. Lately, you’re not even talking to me anymore, but to each other.  I love that.  Many of you contributed history of  Fort Collins that otherwise had never been captured.

I’m prouder of Lost Fort Collins than almost anything else I’ve ever done. Thanks for being part of it.

Cat

P.S. If you want to stay in touch, feel free to friend me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/catmcc) or write cat at lostfortcollins.com

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ArmstrongMarketsI have had SUCH a hard time keeping this quiet– I didn’t want to say anything until it was done. But for several weeks the Armstrong Hotel has been preparing a nice souvenir map of the neighborhood markets that the Lost Fort Collins blog wrote about last year.

The map in my original post was lame, and inaccurate. The Armstrong’s version, which is now available, is nice enough to frame! And it includes a tour of downtown ghost signs.

You still have to use Lost Fort Collins if you want to find all 17 markets. But the Armstrong’s more limited version is just right for your friends and out-of-town guests who maybe don’t have to be obsessive and comprehensive about everything, and just want to go on a nice bike ride and see a few sites.

I hear people like that exist.

Get the map here: http://www.thearmstronghotel.com/outonthetown.php. Click on “Bike through History,” and you’ll find the map in PDF format.

Or ask for one next time you stay at the hotel.

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There once was a boy from a desolate  town that had only one girl worth dating. And when she left him, he came to Fort Collins to float his broken heart in Fat Tire, because you couldn’t buy that where he came from.  Before long,  he discovered O’Dells IPA. It was even better. Probably because she had never even heard of it.
One night, we were at Road 34 disagreeing about whether you can believe in love but not in God, when I realized I’d let him get too drunk.
“I’m going to buy you a burrito,” I said.
“Do you have McBurritos here?” he asked. “The only girl worth dating–we always ate there.”
I put him in my car and drove right past McBurritos, and he was too drunk or too new to insist on it.  Instead, I took him to Big City Burrito.
There wasn’t a line, so I didn’t tell him the rules for ordering…
(The tortilla guy doesn’t want to know what kind of burrito you’re having. Just tell him what kind of tortilla…he’s only pretending to listen to the rest. The filling guy will ask you…never mind. OH, unless you’re getting potato, you have to tell the tortilla guy if you’re going to get potato.)
The boy from a desolate town ordered a potato burrito, and then turned down the Ranch dressing. “Nobody turns down the Ranch dressing with potato,” I said.
“What?” he asked.
“Nevermind.” It was his Big City Burrito and I knew better than to think I could save him from his own bad decisions by now. So I poured us both an iced tea. He found us an unelegant table in a room with sobering lights.
The burritos and the tea did their work. When I was nearly done, I went to pee.  When I returned he was talking to a girl with a damp table rag about John Cage, and she was leaning toward him.
That potato burrito with no Ranch started the cure. Within days, he stopped talking about the only girl worth dating. And he stopped talking about where they ate.  And he stopped talking about love all together.
But he kept eating at Big City. Every day.
And he never stopped talking about God.

BigCityWindow

There once was a boy from a desolate  town that had only one girl worth dating. And when she left him, he came to Fort Collins to float his broken heart in Fat Tire, because you couldn’t buy that where he came from.  Before long,  he discovered O’Dells IPA. It was even better. Probably because she had never even heard of it.

One night, we were at Road 34 disagreeing about whether you can believe in love but not in God, when I realized I’d let him get too drunk.

“I’m going to buy you a burrito,” I said.

“Do you have McBurritos here?” he asked. “The only girl worth dating–we always ate there.”

I put him in my car and drove right past McBurritos, and he was too drunk or too new to insist on it.  Instead, I took him to Big City Burrito.

There wasn’t a line, so I didn’t tell him the rules for ordering…

(The tortilla guy doesn’t want to know what kind of burrito you’re having. Just tell him what kind of tortilla…he’s only pretending to listen to the rest. The filling guy will ask you…never mind. OH, unless you’re getting potato, you have to tell the tortilla guy if you’re going to get potato.)

The boy from a desolate town ordered a potato burrito, and then turned down the Ranch dressing. “Nobody turns down the Ranch dressing with potato,” I said.

“What?” he asked.

“Nevermind.” It was his Big City Burrito and I knew better than to think I could save him from his own bad decisions by now. So I poured us both an iced tea. He found us an unelegant table in a room with sobering lights.

The tea did its work. I went to pee.  When I returned he was talking to a girl with a damp table rag about John Cage, and she was leaning toward him.

That potato burrito with no Ranch started the cure. Within days, he stopped talking about the only girl worth dating. And he stopped talking about where they ate.  And he stopped talking about love all together.

But he kept eating at Big City. Every day.

And he never stopped talking about God.

My day job is interfering with my blog this week. That’s why I’m offering something more creative than historic. Something I wrote in the middle of the night recently. More relevant posts to come when the real work is done.

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Old bins (middle) and new (right)

Old bins (middle) and new (right)

Recently, the city of Fort Collins adopted changes to ordinances that, among other things, require trash haulers to offer new, larger recycling bins. This as part of a larger plan to meet “diversion” goals that will send 50% of our city’s waste to recycling rather than the landfill.

Great idea. But what do we do with the old, smaller recycling tubs?

“I have 15,000 tubs out [in the community],” says Mark Glorioso, from Gallegos Sanitation. And while many customers are choosing to keep the old tubs for storage containers as they upgrade to the newer bins, plenty are sending the old ones back.  Glorioso estimates he currently has between 100 and 200 on hand.

The old tubs are, themselves, recyclable. But not really. “They’d have to be shredded or pelletized before a recycling facility would accept them,” Glorioso says.

So, that leaves potentially thousands of excess plastic recycling tubs as a byproduct of our new and better recycling policies.

But let’s talk about solutions.

Gallegos has at least one: The hauler is talking to Poudre Schools about donating the tubs for worm compost bins.  The repurposed tubs would house worms who would eat your food scraps. The resulting worm poop is as fine a gardening amendment as anything from a pricey nursery. I think it’s an excellent idea.

Although I will say that worms can’t take the Christmas and summer off. And that might mean that instead of babysitting Otis the Turtle during school vacations, families can expect to foster the 3rd Grade Worm Farm.

But that’s just me speculating. Glorioso says that if you’ve got a great re-use situation for a stack of has-been recycling tubs, contact Gallegos Sanitation at 484-5556.

recycle-old

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In my last post, I wrote about how the owner of 1544 W. Oak  plans to restore her ordinary apartment complex to recall its Paramount Cottage Camp roots.

Today, a private collector, who asked not to be identified, gave me permission to show you this–A late 1920s postcard of Paramount Cottage Camp. Make sure you click through for the full-size version:

1544 W. Oak 1929

1544 W. Oak 1929

Here’s the picture of what it looks like today. You needn’t click through on this one:

1544 W. Oak, 2009

1544 W. Oak, 2009

Thanks to Carol Tunner and Maureen Plotnicki for turning me on to this postcard and its collector!

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1544 W. Oak, 2009

1544 W. Oak, 2009

1544 W. Oak wasn’t always a plain, uninteresting apartment complex. And if its owners have their way, it won’t be one much longer.

“We were talking about tearing the apartments down and building condos,” says owner Maureen Plotnicki.

But then she learned the property had a past. According to city documents, 1544 began as a “cottage camp.” That is, a place where tourists could “enjoy all the recreational opportunities Fort Collins had to offer, without having to ‘rough it’ in a tent or automobile.”   It included a store and a gas station too.

So why don’t we just call the 1928 business  a motel?  For one thing, the word Motel didn’t even enter our dictionaries until after World War II. Also, cottage camps typically weren’t built along highways like motels. In the case of Paramount, it was built to complement the municipal campground just across the street at City Park.

Fort Collins Campground 1925

Fort Collins Campground 1925

Plotnicki says now that she knows that she’s sitting on a historic cottage camp, she doesn’t want to build condos there anymore. Instead, she wants to use the site to “explain some of the history to the community and restore some pride to the property.”

So, she’s nominated 1544 W. Oak for Landmark designation. Then she’ll seek a State Historical Society grant to reconstruct the original sign, flower boxes, roof, siding, and some of the garages.

Plotnicki’s Landmark application has already been approved by the Landmark Preservation Commission, and goes to City Council for a first reading on Tuesday, September 1.

And now I’m going to go all editorial on you: It is rare that historic property owners look beyond trendy magazine interpretations of “old house” (NeoCraftsman with a Tuscan kitchen anyone?) and really seek out a building’s true context.

In Fort Collins, especially, where most of the properties were never grand, it takes a certain understanding to see the beauty in the modest scale of most of our buildings and work to toward restoring that. Big thanks and regards to the owners of 1544 W. Oak.  I think they’ll enrich the whole neighborhood and set a great example because of their vision.

Credits

To learn more about the history of the Paramount Cottage Camp (like how 1928 hotel owners petitioned to have it shut down for being too competitive), download the PDF application here.

Camp photo: University Historic Photograph Collection, http://lib.colostate.edu/archives/historic_photos.html, Colorado State University, Archives and Special Collections

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