Poudre Landmarks Foundation hosts 38th Historic Homes Tour

The foundation offers an engaging way to learn local history

The+exterior+of+the+Avery+House

Collegian | Gregory James

The exterior of the Avery House Sept 19. The home is one of several historic locations throughout town that is preserved by the City of Fort Collins.

Alex Hasenkamp, Arts and Entertainment Director

The Poudre Landmarks Foundation hosted its 38th annual Historic Homes Tour Sept. 17. With five private residences and two city-owned, restored midcentury modern houses, the guests were free to wander from one to the other as they pleased.  

The mission statement of the nonprofit organization is clearly displayed on its website as “to preserve, restore, protect and interpret the architectural and cultural heritage of the Fort Collins area.” 

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According to the website, adult tickets were $25 if bought in advance. These proceeds are used to continue the restorations of all the Poudre Landmarks Foundation’s historical homes. 

This tour has been in business since 1985, but it’s not the only event offered. Interested parties are able to rent specific spaces for weddings, photo shoots, celebrations and more. 

Although this is not a guided tour and the visitors have the freedom to explore at their own pace, if any questions happen to arise, a docent is ready to explain the history and upkeep of any and all properties. 

However, if you prefer a fully guided tour, a 45-minute tour of the Avery House is available for those who appreciate a more in-depth explanation of the history, said Sarah Tisdale, one of the volunteer docents. 

Tisdale is one of about 30 docents and is also a Poudre Landmarks Foundation board member and leader of the costume committee. She volunteers about once a month while balancing her job as a graduate advisor at Colorado State University. 

With a master’s in history and a passion for costume making, Tisdale spoke highly of her involvement with the foundation.  

“I love when people come into the house who don’t really want to be there,” Tisdale said. “Maybe their partner dragged them in, but by the end of the tour, they are engaging, they’re asking questions, they’re making eye contact.”

Viewers walked up and down Meeker Drive, chatting with docents and homeowners who told stories about the construction and renovation of their properties.  

One homeowner, Tyson Hall, who currently lives in the Shaw House, said this was his and his wife’s first year participating in the tours. 

The Shaw House was built in 1920 and is quite a popular spot. Spectators were able to walk all around the area during the tour, including upstairs, which is home to a few bedrooms and a vintage library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. 

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Hall said the house looks the same for most of the year, even when guests aren’t touring. The only items he needs to set up are the informational signs attached to displayed historic objects and supplies. 

The Poudre Landmarks Foundation is not only of interest to the local history buffs of Fort Collins. Anne Medlock, a professor of costume design at West Texas A&M University, visited the Avery House back in 2017 after receiving a grant from the Center for the Study of the American West to research the construction of historical clothes. 

After a week of taking down measurements and creating patterns, she used her discoveries to help her students create accurate costume designs for their performance of the 1907 play “A Flea in Her Ear” by Georges Feydeau.

Medlock said it’s rare to find realistic garments in museums because they tend to show off formal attire from more wealthy families. 

“I think sweat stains are the coolest things in clothes because I can tell someone wore them; I find so many dresses that look too pristine or that were donated with the price tag still on it,” Medlock said. 

The tattered clothes from the Avery House gave Medlock a more authentic and accurate view of 1900s fashion for her project.

After 38 years, the foundation still manages to capture the interest of many residents and tell the story of the historic homes of Fort Collins in a fun and interactive way.

Reach Alex Hasenkamp at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @csucollegian.