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Celebrating Washington In Fort Collins

Posted by on February 18, 2013

WashingtonPark3Several presidents are memorialized in Fort Collins. The two most prominent are Washington and Lincoln. Since this is the first Presidents’ Day in which I’ve had the North of Prospect blog, I thought I’d start with Washington and focus on Lincoln and the rest of the bunch some future Presidents’ Day.

Willits1894In 1894, a civil engineer from Denver, W. C. Willits, drew up a map for Fort Collins. The purpose of the map, from what I’ve been told, was to entice folks to come settle in the Choice City. (Willits appears to have drawn maps for several Colorado towns, so perhaps he was more of a marketer for the state than an engineer.)
There are several references to Washington on the map. The left most edge of the Loomis Addition, in Old Town, was a street called Washington Avenue. It stretched five blocks from LaPorte to Mulberry. To the north of Laporte, the street took a bit of a jog and became Wood Street. But one block over, there’s Washington again, although this time it’s a street instead of an avenue. You’ll note that south of Mulberry, Washington Avenue doesn’t exist at all, being called instead, Sheldon Street. If you look at these same streets today, Washington still runs along the western edge of the Loomis Addition, but it also runs south of Mulberry, taking over the street that was labeled as Sheldon on the old map. And Washington Street to the north of Laporte is now Grant Avenue (which makes sense as it’s simply a continuation of Grant Avenue from the Loomis Addition).

WashingtonPark1In Willits’ old map there’s also a Washington Park. It ran the length of a block from Laporte to Maple and from Washington Place to Howes. Washington Place no longer exists (not even as a back alley), but Washington Park is still with us, though less than half the size of what’s shown in Willits’ map. If you attended the Colorado Brewers’ Festival in June 2012 and watched any of the bands play, then you were in Washington Park. Today, City Hall is located on the south end of what used to be Washington Park and a parking lot takes up most of the middle. And during City Council meetings, the council members are sitting almost right over where Washington Place would have been.

We also have a school named after Washington. Many of the early schools had “twins,” in other words, they’d build two identical buildings in two different locations. Washington’s twin was Lincoln. I’ll write more on the Lincoln (Elementary) School in a future post. Washington Elementary is located on South Shields and was recently renovated. It’s the building that used to house the Lab School before it merged with Polaris and moved into Moore’s old building. The building is now owned by Colorado State University and is used for their Early Childhood Development program.

WashingtonPark2I count 3 streets, 1 park and 1 school in Fort Collins named after President Washington. There’s also the Washington Sports Bar & Grill (established in 1978), but I’m not so sure that’s a memorial to our former president. That’s not too shabby all told. I haven’t counted up Lincoln’s namesakes yet, but I suspect that he and Washington will be neck and neck. Every other president takes a back seat to those two.

I can’t think of a single president after the turn of the century (meaning 1900) that had anything named after them in Fort Collins. Can you? If so, please post a note in the comments section indicating which president and what was named after him.

Washington Elementary School

Washington Elementary School

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