Top four Fort Collins historical sites

Hunter Goddard

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Photos by Eliott Foust


With Veterans Day this past week and Thanksgiving coming up, it has been a historical month thus far. In honor of these holidays set aside to celebrate our heritage, here are the top landmarks to visit as Fort Collins residents:

Avery House

Located on the corner of Mountain Avenue and Meldrum Street, Franklin Avery (the founder of First National Bank) built this home with his wife, Sara, in 1879. Here they raised their three children. Avery also developed water projects for Northern Colorado agriculture.

Avery’s descendants lived in the house until it was sold in 1962. The Poudre Landmarks Foundation, Inc., as well as the City of Fort Collins, restored it in 1981. The Avery House Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Water Works

Found at 2005 N. Overland Trail, the origins of this site date back to 1880, when the Fort Collins Board of Trustees began to discuss a better water supply system than the contemporaneous “water wagon” deliveries, especially since wildfires threatened the town’s wood structures.

Three years later, the completed $77,000 project was met without enthusiasm from the more frugal Fort Collins voters, but the majority of them grew to adopt it by the 1890s. The system was a canal that diverted the Cache la Poudre River to a pump house reservoir.

Because the water lacked a steam engine filter before 1900, disease broke out and the city abandoned its first water system altogether in 1905.

Currently, it is under preservation with the Colorado Historical Society’s State Historical Fund, the Friends of the Water Works and the Poudre Landmarks Foundation. It is planned to become an interpretive center for water development and use in the Northern Colorado area.

Armstrong Hotel


The final operating historical hotel in downtown Fort Collins, the Armstrong was founded in 1923 by Charles and Carolyn Mantz and named after Carolyn’s late father, Andrew Armstrong, whose house once stood where the hotel property was constructed.

Formerly the tallest building in town, its symmetrical style  characteristic of the 1920s  has survived to this day, aged from a monstrosity into an artifact, and is still family-owned. During World War II, it was used as a barracks for the U.S. Army, and it held one of the first AAA chapters.

Old Town

Old Town Fort Collins, as a whole, has been immortalized for more than just its microbreweries. Indeed, the aestheticism behind the Main Street USA attraction in Disneyland was inspired by the architecture showcased here.

Partially an effort on Walt Disney’s part to mythologize his hometown of Marceline, Missouri, Main Street USA was also the byproduct of art director Harper Goff’s early renderings throughout Disneyland’s earliest design phases. Goff was born and raised in Fort Collins.

Kill two birds with one stone this year. Respect the past made possible through Veterans Day by giving thanks for the rich history that surrounds us here at CSU. Generations of Fort Collins citizens have left behind an antiquity just begging to be explored.

Collegian A&E Writer Hunter Goddard can be reached at or on Twitter @hunter_gaga.