Archive for the ‘Neighborhoods’ Category

The (recorded?) bells at Saint Joes I might miss more than anything in Fort Collins when I go. It seems like they play more in recent years than they used to. But there’s also a (real) carillon at the Episcopal church.  I don’t know if they play that one.

I would have liked to find out more about them both.

And I might also have said something about the crazy number of traffic signs on the short block in front of St. Joes….

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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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Cunningham Corner is a condo complex on the corner of Horsetooth and Shields in Fort Collins. It’s also the name on the barn that sat at that corner before the condos (the barn has since been declared a historic landmark and moved elsewhere).

And in the early 1970s, it was the name of one of the hottest bands in Fort Collins.

Kevin Donnelly, founding member of Cunningham Corner, the band, sent the Lost Fort Collins blog the story. With pictures:


Cunningham Corner plays CSU

I was the only band member who lived on the [Cunningham Corner] farm, but the band rehearsed there all the time and it became a haven for the local artistic community which at the time consisted of painters, [such as the legendary "Gorpf"], musicians, sculptures, poets and writers.

I don’t know if “hippies” would be the right word to describe the group of people who lived there.  We were just young kids, mostly from the city, who discovered a new way of life in Colorado.

At night, at that time, the area was very quiet and peaceful and all our musician friends would sit around the campfire in the garden and play music into the night.  The area is not quite so isolated nowadays, is it?


625 Remington

In later years, the band all moved into the same house together along with various other artists and musicians.  We built a recording studio there …

There was a “Der Weinerschnitzl” across the alley and we lived off of those dogs! There wasn’t a lot of money, but all we really needed was to make sure that our guitars had new strings on them by opening night!


Outside 625 Remington Street,2005

Early band days at CSU

Scott Galbraith and I  started playing our acoustic guitars in the common area at the Student Center.  That was the beginning of Cunningham Corner.  There used to be this area where students could stretch out on couches and tables. It became an area where musicians could just bring in their instruments and play for everyone.


Playing at CSU

The sound, the scene, and the Jade Urn

It was the time the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Poco, Randy Meisner, Pure Prairie League, John Denver, Michael Nesmith and Michael Martin Murphy. Cunningham Corner had 4 part harmonies but the band was more than that.  It was more like an experimental orchestra.  We played many instruments and all original music that crossed over from jazz to rock to country rock and rhythm and blues and to funk and to even classical and show tunes.

A good friend of the Cunningham Corner band at the time was the poet and musician Charles John Quarto who was a mainstay in Fort Collins and who wrote the lyrics for  “Geronimo’s Cadillac” for Michael Murphy.  Charles was kind of a spiritual advisor of the band and even used to read poetry before our sets at the old Jade Urn coffeehouse.

…I have great memories of playing all night at the Northern Hotel in Fort Collins and then walking home in the cool evening to 1625 Remington Street.  Fort Collins was at the time, and I understand still remains, one of the best places to live in the country.

Cunningham Corner [toured throughout the southwest and] was the only non-recording act to headline multiple times at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas, which was one of the best music venues at the time. [The home of Willie Nelson].  We also played various fund raising and charity events in Fort Collins.

There were other popular hometown bands as well, and twice a year we would all rent out a couple of ballrooms at the student center and hold a big concert where all the bands would play on stage together.  It was a very tightly knit community of musicians.


Publicity for Spring Jam

After the Spring Jam, we all gathered at “The Town Pump” which was then owned by our good friend Ron Heard, and played music all night.  Ron also had an ownership interest in the Rams Inn.  Back then, if you wanted a really good hearty breakfast the Rams Inn was the place to go.  I don’t imagine it is still in business.

RON (1)

Ron Heard at Town Pump

Where are they now?

The members of Cunningham Corner eventually landed in Los Angeles and pursued musical careers.  There were many successes and countless stories.

As for myself, I developed an interest in the law.  I have been practicing law for the last twenty-five years in Los Angeles.  In 2000, I married the love of my life and we now reside in Redondo Beach CA.


Jimmy Davenport, David Fuog, and me

We lost some friends along the way.  Our original drummer, Gary Brittingham, who is seated next to me in the Cunningham Corner barn photo, was accidently electrocuted while working at the old pickle factory in Fort Collins about 1972.

Our  piano player, Rod Seeley, who I understand remained a musical staple in the La Porte and Fort Collins areas until
recently, passed away a few  years ago.

Another great singer and songwriter who lived in Fort Collins at the time and a good friend of the band, Scott Bruning, passed away some twenty years ago.

Peace, Kevin


Final version of the band. 1973. Chester Terwey, David Fuog, Jimmy Davenport, Scott Galbraith, Richard Lee and Kevin Donnelly.

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” Do you remember where the old landfill was? I believe it was also on Taft, but on the east side and closer to town” -Harry


As I remember, the landfill of the 60′s was just south of the
southeast intersection of Harmony and Shields. This intersection no
longer exists as several years ago the city sent Harmony to the north
and then west out to Taft Hill Road. That landfill was later replaced
by the present Larimer County Landfill farther south and on the west


norm_profile[What happens when you ask the Lost Fort Collins blog a question? Typically, I just go ask Norm for the answer. Norm Cook has lived in Fort Collins since the mid 1940s, and he remembers EVERYTHING!

Now, you can cut out the middle man and ask Uncle Norm yourself. Just write Norm@lostfortcollins.com.  Answers appear here on the Lost Fort Collins blog]

[Become a fan of Lost Fort Collins on Facebook]

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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.


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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Just got a tip from Darrin Goodman (the mando from Horsetooth Mountain Rangers) that construction on Remington and Pitkin has exposed tracks.

According to the Fort Collins Muni Railroad folks, there were originally 3 streetcar lines in Fort Collins, with one going to the “new” high school at Remington and Pitkin (which is now the “old” high school or the “new” University Center for the Arts).

Street car at Pitkin and Remington, 1948. From http://history.fcgov.com

Street car at Pitkin and Remington, 1948. From http://history.fcgov.com

Streetcar tracks

Pitkin and Remington, July 2009

Those are, in fact, streetcar tracks making a turn from Remington onto Pitkin. But they won’t be for long. City crews are digging them up as part of a project to repave Remington.
A man in a hard hat at the scene told me they intend to remove one old section of track and take it to the Trolley Barn. But he wasn’t confident the track could survive the excavation.

The Fort Collins steetcar system ran from 1919 to 1951.  A restored line and car has run along Mountain Ave, between City Park and Downtown,  on summer weekends since the mid-1980s.

remington tracks close

Tracks after excavation.

Tracks after excavation.

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While Fort Collins has never granted Landmark District Designation to any of our old town residential neighborhoods,  it has recognized our earliest midcentury modern neighborhood–the 1600 block of Sheely drive.

Fort Collins’ Sheely Drive landmark district represents everything 1950s in modern middle class architecture: Winding streets, low roof lines, decks, prominant garages and carports, with architectural attention to views, landscape, and cars. It was Frank Lloyd Wright’s post-war usonia, just south of Prospect and Shields.

From the Fort Collins museum archives http://history.fcgov.com

There are no sidewalks, curbs or gutters in this neighborhood for the automobile age, and it’s probably fitting that Art Sheely started the development. He owned the local dealership, or rather automotive institution. The Ghents, another local car dealer, lived there too.

Sheely is worth a side trip if you want to see some of the best midcentury modern we have. But don’t stop at the district borders. A lot of the coolest houses are just beyond it. So cool, that even in this market, nothing is for sale.

House on Sheely Drive

1901 Sheely Drive


1801. Note glass balls separating roof from exterior walls (click for large view)

And more historic districts

I know about 2 other historic districts in Fort Collins. Old Town (downtown) has received the city’s Landmark District status, while the area around east Laurel street is registered as a national historic district.

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If you live in a neighborhood you love, and you worry about monster houses taking over, you should know what’s happening over on Park Street.

Dee Amick has filed for Landmark District Designation on behalf of her entire block. And while the application goes through its process, nobody builds anything.

That’s darn inconvenient for the new owner of 223 Park Street,  who wants to scrape the tiny 1925 vernacular that’s there now and erect something a little more roomy.

223 Park St. Tree in foreground was brought to property from Rist Canyon by original owners.

223 Park St. Tree in foreground was brought to property from Rist Canyon by original owners.

223 Park in 1948 (From the Fort Collins Museum Archives)

223 Park in 1948 (From the Fort Collins Museum Archives)

Amick worries that means a 40-foot-tall 2 1/2 story new-old house, in a neighborhood where most houses stand 20 feet.

In her application, she says  “small practical houses” characterize the neighborhood and its working class roots.  So, historic district designation could mandate that new construction also follow compatible guidelines.

To date, no Old Town neighborhoods seem to have been assigned Landmark District Designation, and I’m not sure if any others have even applied. (I only did a quick search on that fact.)

There is still a lot left to do, starting with a plea she plans to make to City Council tonight.  Should be live on Channel 14 between 5:30 and 6:30pm. Watch on TV, or show up in person and let council know you care about this sort of thing.

Dee Amick in front of the old Charvat's Grocery, part of the proposed landmark district.

Dee Amick in front of the old Charvat's Grocery, part of the proposed landmark district.

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2008, after lions removed

In one of Lost Fort Collins’ earliest posts, I talked about the Sigma house on Laurel.  The boys lost their charter afterserving alcohol to young girls during a party. Gossip around town said they would paint those lions at the entry stairs red to signal when a brother had bagged a virgin.

The old house is now, finally, a hole in the ground.

Frat House

June 2009

Or maybe it always was ….


Sigma house from the 1972 CSU Yearbook

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