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Archive for the ‘Vintage commercial’ Category

“I moved here in ‘74. It seems we went to Everitt’s lumber that year (Prospect by the rr tracks). I remember part of that drive on a gravel road. Has memory failed me ?” John Reed.

Mr. Reed:

The lumber yard you describe is now Sutherland’s, and I don’t remember Everitts owning it previously. My thinking is perhaps that you visited “Cook Lumber” which would have been north of the location you describe and very possibly accessed by a gravel road. Cook Lumber was a native lumber mill that bought raw timber (logs) hauled from northwestern Larimer County, i.e., Red Feather Lakes, Deadman, Poudre Canyon and Gould (in Jackson County).

Norm

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]

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coopfront

Beet Street, an enterprise formed to bring tourist dollars to downtown Fort Collins, recently announced a “Homegrown Fort Collins” event for late September.  It has something to do with eating local. And by that they mean eating at local restaurants, or eating from local farms, or drinking local beer.  But among its partners for the event it lists  a Greeley public radio station and a Texas organic grocery chain.

Why not KRFC, the Fort Collins community radio station? And why not the Fort Collins Food Co-op–our first natural foods market and now one of downtown’s oldest businesses?

I’m sure Beet Street has its reasons. KRFC and the Co-op are community-run outfits that probably can’t manage the scale of commitment or contribution that the NPR affliliate and Whole Foods can. And let me add that I applaud Beet Street for these efforts at doing more to celebrate who we are rather than who someone thinks we ought to be. To say nothing of its generous underwriting at KRFC. Cheers Beet Street.

But at the same time, I worry that “local” will soon become as meaningless as “green” as national corporations get on the bandwagon and somehow co-opt another grassroots movement. Especially the local food movement.

In this new landscape, will there even be a place anymore for the Fort Collins Food Co-op?

To answer that, you have to know where the Co-op came from, and why it ever mattered. It’s a story that starts with one of our earliest grassroots organizations, the Point.

The Point

In 1970, Bear Gebhardt started The Point in Fort Collins because he didn’t want to go to Vietnam. It was a choice the Federal judge gave him when he blew off his draft notice–2-5 years in jail or community service.

The Point, says Gebhardt, was his community service. And he stayed with it for 9 years.

It started as a nonprofit to provide drug counseling for teens. “Heroin was getting popular on the coasts, and everyone was worried about it coming to Fort Collins,” he says. Working loosely from early Dr. Andrew Weil writings, The Point encouraged kids to be more reflective. “We would say, ‘look, you’re obviously searching for something…” he says, and then trails off. “We did it all rather clumsily.”

But that didn’t stop him from trying. Over time, the Point housed several community efforts from its old brick mansion at Mulberry and Remington:

A small legal service opened, because drug use is a legal issue.

And a medical clinic, because drug use is a also health issue. The clinic offered prenatal and well-baby care as well.

It was all rather open, from what I can tell.

“I don’t recall that financial need had to be demonstrated as a condition of receiving services,” says John Gascoyne, now host of KRFC’s Imagine Action. “I had some minor medical service performed one night and swept the upper floor of The Point offices as payment. “

Ya, and it just got more and more hippie from there.

They collected newspapers and hauled them to Denver for recycling–because no recycling existed in Fort Collins.  And they got the City to put up these thumb signs,  along College Avenue,  where you could solicit a shared ride during the first gas crisis. Hitchhiking with the City’s blessing.

Some of these programs fell flat (hitchhiking signs) and others blossomed (legal and medical services were picked up by bigger nonprofits and governments).

Begatting the Food Co-op

Activists were naturally drawn to The Point, forming what Gebhardt calls a tribe. A brown rice-loving tribe, apparently. Because they soon noticed that while  weed and alcohol were abundant in Fort Collins, you couldn’t buy a sack of unmilled rice anywhere.

So, in the Winter of 1971, 30 of them each kicked in a dollar and sent a driver to Erie to buy the first bag. Within a year, an active buying club took up more and more floor space at the Point. It soon outgrew its closet. Then one room and then two. Gebhardt says they thought about moving operations into the garage behind The Point, but the Health Department thought otherwise. The tribe would need to start a proper store.

And so it did. In 1974, the club incorporated and opened a shop at the old West Side Market at 700 W. Mountain. It proved a good location and the business made money. In fact, it soon outgrew the building.

Next, the Food Co-op moved to the current building on 250 E. Mountain in 1978. But things didn’t go so well there. Honestly, the Food Co-op seems to have mostly struggled ever since.

CoopOld

Do we still need the Food Co-op?

Over the years, the Food Co-op tried to draw in more customers, more seniors, more students. It struggled to address its inadequate parking.  Even keeping track of money proved challenging. And most recently, it’s had to compete with bigger and better organized organic commercial markets, like Whole Foods, Sunflower, Vitamin Cottage.

To make matters worse, it built a reputation as being unconcerned with shoppers. Members couldn’t agree on a management structure; staff with unwashed hair hardly looked up from their magazines as you shopped; food rotted in the produce bins. Maybe that didn’t used to matter. But with the Seattle coffee house lights, generous parking, and perky helpers of Whole Foods just down the street, the Co-op came to symbolize everything outdated and stuck about hippies.

So why not just shut it down?

Here’s why.  Here’s my 5 reasons why the Food Co-op still matters:

1. The Co-op is doing its damnedest to turn around right now. It’s cleaned up nicely. With an impressive new manager, the produce, layout, and the help is now pleasant and fresh.

2. It’s focused on buying local in a way no organic supermarket can. “We can buy from a farm that’s only an acre large,” says Chad Chriestenson, Co-op outreach and education. “The bigger markets can’t.”

3. It’s flexible enough to partner with other downtown businesses. While I was in the back room, management talked about splitting a shipment of apple cider with another small store. Soon after, Co-op manager, Lynn Chriestenson, held up a pile of checks she’d written and said, “I’ll only mail about a fourth of these.” Another fourth she’ll walk around town, paying downtown businesses with whom the Co-op has established partnerships. “The rest I’ll pay out at the Farmer’s Market this weekend.”

4. It’s ours, it’s local, and we have a history.

5. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is having a Wal-Mart effect on small towns all over America, says Every Kitchen Table. Once vibrant community-supported agriculture and food co-ops are buckling  everywhere, and the smallest farmers are losing out.

And maybe we’re losing out too.  I’m not sure. But I think it’s time to try the Food Co-op again and see if we can make it work–before “local” in Fort Collins is little more than a loosly defined label at a just-like-the-next-town-over strip mall organo-market.

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Credits and post script

The idea for this story came from Allison Fink last February. Thanks Allison!

Bear Gebhardt still lives in Fort Collins. After he left The Point, he became a stock broker. He’s author of the book Enlightened Smokers Guide to Quitting and lists his current profession as “Monk” on his Facebook page.

bear

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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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Frontier Airlines was auctioned off this week to Republic Airways.

Coincidentally, I today picked up a stack of “Colorado Wonderland” magazines dated 1950 to 1955.  The magazine is all about promoting tourism in Colorado, promising a minimum of 6 natural color photos in each issue. Plus, there are ads for 3, that is, THREE! different passenger rail carriers for Colorado in almost every issue too. There’s a lot of excitement about the all-concrete Boulder to Denver turnpike. And the state engineer is hinting we’d make a great east/west route for the new transcontinental highway. But that’s all for later.

Today, let’s take a moment for Frontier:

MapMay1950

This May 1950 map shows all the airlines operating out of Colorado:  Braniff, Challenger, Continental, Monarch, United, and Western Air.

The following month, June1950, Challenger and Monarch would merge with a third airline to become Frontier. Here are the ads of the day:

Frontier1952

1952

1953

1953

Frontier1953-b

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Have you noticed that Lost Fort Collins is no longer just a blog, but rather a hyperlocal multimedia congress of wonders? Those are movin’ pictures on the right!  The most current shows Norm talking about a business that used to occupy 300 N. College and how it was kinder to its employees than any boss you or I ever had.

300 N. College

300 N. College

P.S. All my movies are less than 2 minutes.

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Kate Forgach put a link from her Tattle Tales column to Lost Fort Collins today in reference to the cool safe at City Drug that’s still was for sale.  I’ll repost the photo below.  You REALLY have to click through to see how awesome the painting is. And fans of typeface will find the close up print interesting too.

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Here’s Kate’s story, in case you have no idea what I’m talking about…http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20090724/COLUMNISTS109/907240305/1024/LIFESTYLE/Oldest-kid-on-block-to-remain-a-local-staple

And here’s my original story. Even though you’ve already seen the safe, it’s still worth clicking through for the “Big jar o’ pills” photo and for KipW’s comment on getting locked in a safe in the basement under Beau Jos:  http://lostfortcollins.com/2009/03/18/safe-at-city-drug/

Update

The safe was sold just before City Drug moved. The new owner, a manager over at Ace Hardware, took delivery via forklift, restored the safe, and has begun the meditative task of trying to guess the combination…it seems nobody remembers it.

By the way, I just noticed another Mosler safe in the window at Silver Grill ….

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