Fort Collins Historic Groups Celebrate Sesquicentennial in September

This year, the community of Fort Collins celebrates its 150th anniversary. In 1864 Camp Collins was relocated to the present Old Town Fort Collins area following a devastating flood, and the town of Fort Collins began. If you enjoy local history, several upcoming events may spark your interest further.

Fort Collins 150: Celebrating Our Stories. The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery recently opened its first special exhibition that will run for one year. The exhibit is built from 150 stories taken from community members when asked last fall, “What makes Fort Collins Fort Collins?” Newcomers to the area may not be familiar with “College Days” or “The Masonville Monster,” but now is their chance to find out what meaning they have to the town. Discover the commonplace and the unique in this one-of-a-kind exhibit and expand your knowledge of your hometown.

The Poudre Landmarks’ 30th Annual Historic Homes Tour: Travel Through Time: 150 Years in the Fort. I had the privilege of participating as a guide in the Historic Homes Tour a few years ago when I was involved with the Poudre Landmarks Foundation. The tour gives community members an opportunity to see a variety of local vintage homes since the birth of Fort Collins. The tour is generally built around specific neighborhoods or themes such as Victorian, Prairie-Style, or even Retro. This year, celebrating Fort Collins’ sesquicentennial, three centuries of buildings will represent architectural styles from the 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s. As always, Fort Collins’ premiere historic home, The Avery House, will be open, as well as the 1882-1883 Fort Collins Water Works. The tour is Saturday, Sept. 13, 10 am – 4pm.

The 19th Annual Cemetery Stroll. Did you know Larimer County’s Coroner in the early 1900s was named H. M. Balmer? (I’m not making this up!) I discovered this fact when I participated in the Cemetery Stroll a few years ago and was researching business owners in the stacks of the Old Town Library. The Cemetery Stroll is held at Grandview Cemetery where most of Fort Collins’ and Larimer County’s founding citizens have been laid to their final rest. The stroll also has a common theme each year, such as founders, outlaws, business leaders, and educators. Actors of the formerly departed tell their story (graveside!), and along with it, the town’s story. One year, I had the honor of portraying teacher, Mame Harris (Harris Bilingual Immersion School is named for her). When I performed as Mame, I talked about her lifelong career as an educator and of her father’s career as mayor. Her father, Jessie Harris, was also instrumental in bringing water to the burgeoning town of Fort Collins. This year’s Stroll, “In the Shadow of the Civil War — A Fort is Born,” will feature Lt. Col. Collins, along with four Union and two Confederate soldiers. This Stroll is on Saturday, Sept. 20, with showings in the morning and early afternoon.

If you enjoy these tidbits of local history, be sure to look at the “History Connection” on the library’s website to learn more about our interesting community. And remember to checkout the wonderful collection on local history at each of the district’s libraries.

The Library District will be celebrating by going western in October. Look for events from the Buffalo Bill Experience to authentic cowboy music with Bill Barwick!