Archive for February, 2009

Imagine you build a house out of local and renewable materials. And you build it only 500 square feet for the whole family, in walking distance of your job. The yard is big enough for a significant garden, and you raise chickens and hang your own laundry on a clothes line.

Nobody gives you a tax credit or even an energy star.

You don’t ask for one. You grow up with your neighbors, know each other’s kids and grandparents, and for the most part keep to yourself.  Although once in a while you’ll ask for a school or paved roads long after everyone else gets them.

It goes like that for generations. 

The factory closes. A new factory comes to the neighborhood. A craft brewery that draws national attention for it’s feel-good business practices. But when you walk through the front door, it’s clear none of these workers have ever topped a sugar beet. 

Another big employer tries to come to the neighborhood, a SuperWal-Mart.  But from the other side of the tracks they  scream “corporate domination!!!” and fight like hell to keep the jobs away.

The sustainability fair raises its tent just next door to show the city about living in harmony with the earth–although ironically nobody notices you’ve been treading lightly since the beginning. Amy Goodman comes from New York City to wring her hands about injustice on the other side of the world. 

You don’t say anything.

The crowds grow as everyone wants to throw world-class parties in your backyard. And when you complain, they whisper, “Maybe you should just move to Greeley.”


I’m not Mexican, and I have no business pretending to know how it feels. But I do know there’s more to this town than bicycles and breweries. And I do think our neighbors in Andersonville, Buckingham, and Alta Vista want you to know who they are.  

The Museo de las Tres Colinas in Andersonville is open on the third Saturday of each month from 12:30-3pm, and every Saturday in April from 12:30-5pm.


Lost Fort Collins now has a Flickr page for additional photos, some related to posts, some not.  See the Beyond the Blog link at right.

You can see a snapshot of Betty Aragon-Mitotes there. This post came as a result of my conversation with her yesterday.

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On Tuesday, February 18, 1975, the Northern Hotel burned–from the roof down. Someone took snapshots, and Norm made color photocopies, and I scanned them. Just so you could see it 34 years later:


This shows the view from Walnut street looking toward College. If you’re having trouble getting oriented, it’s because Old Town Square isn’t there yet. The building that today houses The Right Card should be in front of that Police car. 

Or maybe you’re just disoriented by businessmen in plaid pants standing in the middle of the street.  I miss that about the old days, too.

I like this photo best of all …


The spray from the firehose makes a rainbow. I like to think of it as God’s promise that despite the 20 years of disrepair and condemnation that will come to the Northern Hotel because of this fire, someday a man with a bucket of very white paint will come make it all better.

In all seriousness..

The Northern was a single room occupancy hotel in the 1970s, much like it is today, and I know a man died in this fire. But I can’t tell you anything else about him.

I’ve noticed that the Northern Hotel has an interesting history of accidental deaths–Shriners falling from windows, that kind of thing. But that’s another post.

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Say you’re walking down College Avenue one day and your friend says, “Ooooh! Sense of Place. I Looooove that store! Let’s go in.”   Sense of Place and its sister, Perennial Gardener, are paradise to many women. Chick heaven

But say you’re not  into it. Like because you’re a guy or something. Here’s a little historic trivia to make your purgatory, er, visit more poignant.

In the middle of the last century, 160 N. College was actually guy heaven! It was Griffith’s Cigars, Griffith’s Sporting Goods, and Griffith’s Billiards. Look at the floor, and you’ll see burn marks everywhere from the man years. 

Along the North wall, see if you can spot where pool players once shot dozens of cigarettes toward the cuspidor. And missed.


They didn’t even bother to retrieve their smoldering butts. But that was okay. That was another time, long ago, back when you could smoke indoors.

And spit.

Now, you’re standing just where they stood. Only surrounded by bird feeders, fragrant hand lotions, and clever wood signs instead of guns and hand chalk. 

Here’s one more thing fun thing to look for, on the South wall of Perennial Gardener, where the plaster still sticks to the brick. Behind the new antiques, you can see penciled Chinese characters from the Woo Lee Laundry that occupied the building in the early 1900s.

My camera doesn’t pick it up, so look here:



Thanks to the owners of PG and SoP for showing me around. They even moved furniture so I could get these shots. Not only do they have impeccable taste, they’re good sports too!

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Economies of scale aren’t just changing factories and retail outlets. Here are a few others left behind by the big box explosion south of town…all within 4 blocks of one another. All for sale.

209 Whedbee

209 Whedbee


300 Whedbee

300 Whedbee


717 Whedbee

717 Whedbee

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After 34 years in Fort Collins, Jane Tester will close her Old Corner Book Shop at 216 Linden on Friday.

Tester had a stroke in December and will move closer to her family in Elizabeth, CO. 

The family plans to open the store for the last time on Friday afternoon. “If there’s something you’ve been really wanting, that will be your last chance to get it,” Tester’s son-in-law  said.

The family has put the building and business up for sale. It includes the entire book store, all 23,000 volumes, and the upstairs space–used only for storage in the past 30 years.  

“This bookstore was my mother’s life,” Tester’s daughter, Jacky Canton,  said.  “We’re hoping to sell the building and business to someone who’ll keep it open.”

I’m hoping for that too.

Want to buy a bookstore? Please? You can contact Jacky Canton at J[email protected]. Or write me off line if you want her phone number.

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