Well, I know at least some of you went looking for the calaboose (see original post here), because local merchants contacted me to ask about people with maps in their alleys.
I think the calaboose site is in the alley right next to LeRoy’s LockSafe Systems (326 Walnut). That’s why, in the first story, I told the unrelated story about the woman killed near LeRoy’s and the lynching that followed at the county courthouse. I was trying to creep you out.
And if you went there on Friday or Saturday, some of you encountered the extra creepiness of running into these guys from the haunted house loitering in the alley:
When I first heard about the calaboose, it was suggested it was this white building on the right of this photo (using passive voice to avoid saying outright that I disagree with a local historian who has much more credibility than I do):
But the map doesn’t back it up. Matt from LeRoy LockSafe Systems, who got involved because he got curious about LostFortCollins readers loitering around his shop with maps, agrees:
On the map, you can clearly see a building on the “326″ lot – that’s our shop. There have been a couple of additions since then, in the 1920’s and again in the 50’s, but you can still see the original stone work from the outside of the building. The square labeled calaboose is pretty clearly where there is now just an alley (near some transformers). Unfortunately it’s simply gone
Matt illustrates his point here on his web site: http://www.locksafesystems.com/hist.htm.
I think he’s right. It’s gone. What’s there now? This patch of asphalt and these uneasy, something-baaaad-happened-here sheep! Click the picture for a bigger view of their fluffy rainbow paranoia.
LeRoy’s has a neat history page with a picture of the old stone house, before the store fronts were added. Look:
The Sheep mural was painted by Ren Burke, and I like it a lot. Especially in that spot.
What about the blue drunk tank?
Many people reasoned the calaboose was the blue drunk tank one block west of the calaboose site, in the same alley. I think that’s a block from the calaboose in the map, but I hear Carol Tunner is researching its history as well. I’m looking forward to seeing her findings and will share whatever I can.
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Inside one of those blocks — I think the block with the old firehouse — there was a rough stone wall on a lot with some parking off the alley. The wall showed (years ago) some traces of a large, complex sign that used to be on there for the supply store. Details are getting washed out by subsequent stuff, but there were sections that showed some cattle and other pictorial elements, and some remaining writing. I keep meaning to search for the place when I’m in town, but there’s always other stuff going on for those few occasions when I get back. If anything remains, I’d sure love to see a photo of it. It would probably take several to get it all in, because of the short angle.
We went looking and are pleased that we concluded the same thing you did, there are now sheep where the calaboose used to be. That was fun, we had a blast with the map, like treasure hunting. Do some more!
Teresa, thanks for commenting. I’ve been feeling a little, erm, sheepish, the past couple days wondering if people would be upset that I sent them into those alley ways and there was nothing there. But I did it because local historians did the same thing to me. Carol Tunner has sent me her research and said “Historian X says it’s still there, but check the Sanborn map.”
It was a beautiful fall afternoon and we needed a good walk anyway. Randy thought I was a bit nuts at first when I showed him the map, but then he got into it more than I did, insisting I take tons of pictures of an empty spot. It was probably us that alarmed the lock shop guy as we did peer into their yard and made note of the stone house that had been in your blog. We were inspired to take alleys all the way back home. Saw some cool looking lofts/apartments we never knew existed.
“The Sheep mural was painted by Ren Burke, and I like it a lot. Especially in that spot.”
How did you find out who painted that? I’ve been taking pictures of the painted transformers (I think that’s what they are, right? Transformers?) for several years now in hopes of putting together a photo album of all of them. It would be nice to add artist info.
Has someone already posted a comprehensive album somewhere? Do you know?
I queried Art in Public Places, Fort Collins. http://www.fcgov.com/artspublic/. Only this year’s artists are featured. Not sure if the older artists are available.
OK, for those curious about the blue drunk tank, cat wrote about it on 5/22/09 with pictures: http://lostfortcollins.com/2009/05/22/the-blue-jailhouse/
Now, I know she said Carol Tunner is researching it, but has anyone gone out and measured it since it’s supposed to be 20 X 20 and someone suggested that the calaboose might have been moved from its original site? (And, what is that thing made out of? I mean, yeah, it’s cement or some sort of mortar on the outside, but is it plastered over split logs or ties or is that only around the top?)
Now, the blue jail thingy looks like cement mortar to me, but what do I know? In trying to date the structure, we might want to know if it is cement all the way through. If there’s limestone mortar, even underneath the cement (assuming it’s cement on top) then maybe it would give an earlier date to the structure. Our limestone mortar was used until when? Seems like I read that it was starting to be in decline by 1918. So, if there’s only cement mortar, then it’s almost definitely not the original calaboose. If there’s limestone mortar, even layered down under cement (which could have been added on top to strengthen the structure before moving), then maybe it could be…
Now I really want someone who knows what they are talking about to come on and discuss different mortars or binders and historical dating including explaining what the stuff called limestone cement is. I really have no idea what I’m talking about, but figured that if I rattled on, there might actually be someone who does and who could set me straight.
My thought is that if records can’t be found, and/or the search is taking too long while all ideas of where to look are exhausted, why not just test a corner of the building or have some experts in these things take a look and make a stab at guessing its age?
(Of course I still want to know the year of the LAST Sanborn map on which the calaboose appears. Alternatively, if there was just one map which it’s on, what was the year of that Sanborn map?)
Here’s more clues:
The first block of College was paved in 1916. Was the paving of streets a reason for moving the calaboose? Is a calaboose (or a jail or drunk tank) on the 1917 Sanborn map?
Also, the fact that town offices were shared with the fire house at the turn of the century could have been another impetus for a move.
Although 20 x 20 is small, it seems large to me for a one or 2 person dump (think of the size of a master bedroom in a pre-owned home under $200,000 – 20 x 20 would be HUGE!). So my next question became was there a model for building a calaboose?
Here’s what 5 different calabooses looked like in different locations in the Old West on Robin Cole Jett’s blog called Red River Historian (covering the border between Texas and Oklahoma, dipping into the tip of SW Arkansas, and on into Louisiana): http://redriverhistorian.com/calaboose.html
But, here’s a find which really made me sit up! It’s the story of an old calaboose in Warsaw, Indiana which was destroyed by a fire (no picture, but check out the narrative excerpt below): http://www.yesteryear.clunette.com/warsaw1882.html
“…On Sunday morning, February 12, 1882, as Charlie Bayless was distributing the Sunday morning edition of The Daily Times he discovered that the old calaboose was all in flames. This was a small building about 20×20 with barred windows which stood just west of where the Union office is now. Then it stood just opposite Dr. Bash’s new home. It had been built some twenty years before to put drunks in until they sobered up. In spite of the mud in the streets the firemen managed to get the old steamer down the street. Their efforts, however, were devoted to putting out the fire on adjoining buildings… Our first fire engine was consumed in the flames. It had been placed in here for safe keeping. “The Old Tub” was bought in ‘58 at Adrain, Michigan, and was said to have been the first engine taken west of Detroit. It had paid for itself many times and was used in the big fire on Center street in 1867…”
That 20 x 20 calaboose in Indiana had been large enough that it could store a fire engine of the late 1800s in!!! Our combined city hall and fire station were built in 1881. Maybe we moved our calaboose so we could store a fire engine in it if need be or when we wanted to hold a large meeting in the co-located city offices?
Nisperos, with all this background, I feel like I’ll be very, very educated if I ever get to see what Carol found. She says there’s an old painting that includes the blue drunk tank, and she’s waiting to get her hands on that before she’ll call her research complete.