Historic Homes Tour unveils hidden stories in Fort Collins

Sam Sedoryk

The Poudre Landmarks Foundation honored the nuances of historic Fort Collins architecture at their 35th annual Historic Homes Tour. The event, which took place on Sept. 15, emphasized the historic importance of vintage Fort Collins residences, inns and public buildings.

water works building.
The Fort Collins Water Works building on Overland Trail was originally built in 1883 when the City deliberated creating a better water system for its residents. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

This fall, The Poudre Landmarks Foundation chose to open up six private residences, the Avery House and two other historic buildings for local history buffs and curious neighbors to explore. The tours were led by knowledgeable docents who guided visitors through the buildings, pointing out historical highlights and architectural history.

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The buildings were all constructed between the 1800s and 1900s, showing styles of architecture that were popular through the ages in Old Town, such as Victorian, Italianate and masonry ranch.

Preservation is central on what makes Fort Collins so unique, as it is not preserved through estates and mansions but through smaller homes and community farms.” – Adam Thomas, assistant teaching professor at CSU

“You only get half the story of these homes when looking at them from the street,” said Adam Thomas, an assistant teaching professor at Colorado State University who specializes in American architectural history. “It also tells how the buildings in Fort Collins have changed over time.”

The Historic Homes Tour provides some insight into how Fort Collins moved from a small farming town to the bustling suburban community it is now. That starts with some of the first families to arrive in Old Town, who constructed important buildings such as the Avery House, Fort Collins Water Works and more. 

“The Avery House is interesting because it never started off as a big house,” Thomas said. “The house starts off as a simple place, like the story of Fort Collins, and over time there have been expansions added to the home.”

The Avery House is open for guided tours each Saturday and Sunday, 1–4 p.m.

The Historic Homes Tour began 35 years ago to raise money for the restoration of the Avery House. As the years have gone by, the tour has remained as the primary fundraiser for the Avery House and Fort Collins Water Works.

man looks at clock
Avery House volunteer Blake Bergersen admires an old clock inside the front room of the Avery House. The house was built in 1879, receiving its National Register as a historically significant landmark in 1972. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

“I believe that it brings another aspect,” said Lynda Lloyd, a member of the board of directors at the Poudre Landmarks Foundation. “It shows that historic homes can be useful, and we can turn them around to make them livable for our modern family.”

The Poudre Landmarks Foundation hosts this event every year, working with the community, homeowners and also artists to showcase the incredible history behind the doors of these houses. Several artists from Northern Colorado Plein Air Artists rendered the architectural beauty of these homes on their canvases during the event.

“I hope to capture the history of this house,” said Jenifer Cline, an artist from the organization.

A portion of the proceeds for the paintings goes to the Poudre Landmarks Foundation to help with restoration for houses like the Avery House and Fort Collins Water Works.

“Preservation is central on what makes Fort Collins so unique, as it is not preserved through estates and mansions but through smaller homes and community farms,” Thomas said.

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Sam Sedoryk can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or Twitter @samsedoryk.