94 years of history at The Diversity House

Sarah Ehrlich

The Colorado State University campus has endured major change throughout the years, and one building has been standing strong since 1923.

The Diversity House has been home to many things benefitting culture at CSU before currently serving as the Office of the Vice President for Diversity.

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a white house with blue trim.
The Diversity House can be found at the intersection of Shields and Laurel and has served as a pinnacle player in the culture of CSU. Built in 1923, this house has had quite a history. (Sarah Ehrlich | Collegian)

“When people visit us here, it changes their energy,” said Dr. Oscar Felix Associate Vice President for Diversity “It can be like a retreat from the bustling, busy campus. It serves as a place for the community to have discussions on how to support each other.”

In 1923, Claire F. Wolfer, an alumna, and Fort Collins banker hired Denver based architect Edwin Francis to design the colonial wood-framed house for him and his family. The house boasts two stories, four bathrooms, many bedrooms and a large backyard.

In 1946, Colorado A&M purchased the house and surrounding 75 acres to use for expansion of the college.

That year, President Roy M. Green and his family moved in and the house was officially dedicated as “Greenhaven Farm” as part of the commencement ceremonies in June. From this time on, the building housed the next three college presidents and their families and served as the “Bull Farm,” complete with horse stables and pastures.

“Dr. Isaac E. Newsom was the next to live in the house during his short stint as president in 1948,” said historical researcher Gordon “Hap” Hazard of the Archives and Special Collections. “After that, William E. Morgan and his family lived in the house for the next twenty years. They were quite social people and they hosted a lot of dinner parties and house guests.”

According to Hazard’s research, the Morgan family lived in the Northern Hotel downtown while they waited for new furniture and appliances to arrive from Paris since Newsom took what was in the house. During the post-war era, appliances such as ovens or refrigerators could be difficult to get.

After Morgan’s retirement in 1969, the house underwent renovations to accommodate a young president Adrian Ray Chamberlain. The garage was renovated into a family room along with some porch redesign. The surrounding acres of the house were sold and used to build fraternity and sorority houses before the renovation.

a hallway in a house with a painting on the wall.
Art made by CSU professor Dr. Eric Aoki hangs in the halls and rooms of the Diversity House, creating a nice contrast between early 20th-century house design and a pop of modern art. (Sarah Ehrlich | Collegian)

Chamberlain was the last president to live in the house after the University decided to provide future presidents with a stipend to find their own living quarters. The began using the house for University offices.

 In 1979, the house began a new sense of place at CSU. It housed the offices for the Alumni Development Center and CSU Foundation for the next 29 years.

The house remained in good condition until one night in 1984. A driver who failed to stop a light on Laurel and Shields smashed their car into the front wall of the house. Luckily, the damage was repaired. Not so luckily, the same type of accident happened in 2000 when a hit and run driver hit the same part of the house, causing $15,000 in damage.

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In 2008, the house fulfilled a new purpose when it became the Office of Conference Services. In 2011, there was a plan to tear the house down to make room for parking but it fell through when the University decided it should remain.

a firepit during winter
The Diversity House boasts a large backyard complete with a fire pit. Many events such as weddings, receptions, picnics and retreats have been hosted on the property. (Sarah Ehrlich | Collegian)

In 2014, employees of office for the Vice President of Diversity conducted major design renovations that included exterior paint, accessible training space, and restoration of entryway arch, upgraded bathrooms, floors and kitchen.

“It’s just a nice blend of functional yet homey décor for a comforting feel,” said Jan Marquette, accounting technician for the Office of Diversity. “This house has been through a lot of iterations, and now ours is totally fresh and different.”

Walking into the house, people can feel a pleasant contrast between past and present, as modern art and colors hang on the 94-year-old walls. The Diversity House has perhaps the most change-filled history of any building on the CSU campus and continues to serve a unique purpose.

More information can be found at the Archives and Special Collections office at Morgan Library.

Collegian reporter Sarah Ehrlich can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @sarahehrlich96.