After many meetings and discussions, much research and a fair bit of community advocacy, it looks like the house on Whitcomb is still going to be torn down and replaced with something at least twice its size. But I get ahead of myself here. Let me back up.
Back in April, I heard about a house that was going to be demolished on Whitcomb Street. The neighbors were very upset about what was going on, especially because they didn’t hear about the planned demolition until the city had already approved it. A hasty meeting was called in order to mediate between the home owners, who were hoping to tear down their 112 year old house and replace it with a much larger, much more modern looking building, and the other residents of the block who were mortified that a house with so much history, and which contributed so much to the overall character of the neighborhood, was going to be scrapped for something that wouldn’t fit the character of the neighborhood at all.
The house at 122 Whitcomb was one of eight houses that had been built on that street by the same mason and carpenter. Unfortunately, I only have the story as I remember it from the telling at a meeting with the Landmark Preservation Committee regarding the demolition. According to an owner of one of the other eight houses, a mason lived on the west side of the street and built 4 houses there. (Apparently the brick on some of the houses has been covered over?) and a carpenter lived on the east side of the street where he also built 4 houses. They started with smaller houses on the corners and with each new house they added both size and embellishments. So the overall look of the houses is very similar, but each one is also distinct from the others.
The house as 122 S. Whitcomb has been sitting empty for about a decade. Around 2005 or so, someone decided to renovate the place and apparently tore up most of the inside. Then, for whatever reason, the upgrades were never begun and the house continued to sit vacant. Last fall a couple that lives further south on Whitcomb purchased the property with the plan of scraping the house and placing a 3500 square foot (above ground — much larger if you include the basement) house on the property. (The current house is 1700 square foot above ground.)
The neighbors have spoken extensively with the couple (Thanks to mediation support through the city.) and encouraged them to remodel and add an addition, but keep the facade of the house, or perhaps to scrape and rebuild, but to keep the overall style of the house so that it continues to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. At least four other houses among the eight have undergone remodeling in the past, but all have maintained the same look at the front of the house that has been there for over 100 years. The owners insist that it will be too much work to renovate. They’re going through with the demolition despite the neighborhood outcry.
The house has been painted with some grayish-black stuff (to apparently keep the lead paint underneath from flying around) and is awaiting its fate. Fort Collins is about to loose a 112 year old piece of its history.