It’s Presidents Day! Another chance to explore the homage paid to American presidents in Fort Collins. I covered Washington’s presence last year, so this year it’s Lincoln’s turn.
President Lincoln was well represented in Fort Collins’ city streets in the early days. North of Mountain Avenue was Lincoln Street, south of Mountain Avenue was Lincoln Avenue, and east of downtown was yet another Lincoln Avenue. This must have gotten confusing because only one of those three streets remains today. Back in the late 1800’s, the Lincoln Avenue east of Jefferson was only a short segment that connected Mountain Avenue to the river where it ran into the road to Greeley. Today the street extends all the way past Timberline and isdue for some major upgrades as both business and residential housing projects start to pop up in the area. Lincoln Street and Lincoln Avenue on the west side of the city were renamed to North and South Loomis Avenue, probably around the time that Abner Loomis created the Loomis Addition on that side of town.
President Lincoln was also memorialized by a park on the east side. In 1903, a library was built on the west side of the same block with a donation from Andrew Carnegie and before long people were referring to Library Park rather than Lincoln Park. The Carnegie Library now houses the Arts Incubator of the Rockies and Library Park now hosts the Old Town Library.
In 1919, an elementary school was built on East Elizabeth street and named Lincoln Elementary. However, in 1939 when the folks at Lincoln Junior High School decided to change their name to Lincoln Junior High, the elementary school changed it’s name to Harris, to honor former teacher and Principal Margaret “Mame” Harris. The building still stands and is now referred to as Harris Bilingual School. As I mentioned in last year’s Presidents Day post, Washington Elementary (now a CSU preschool on South Shields) and Lincoln Elementary were “twin” schools, which means that they were built with the same architectural plans.
Lincoln Junior High began in 1922 and shared a building with the senior high, but in 1925 the high school moved to a new location (on Remington Street) and the junior high was able to fill out the building that was left behind. The school was mostly razed in the mid-70s, but what remains (the gym plus a bit) is integrated into the Lincoln Center at the corner of Meldrum and Magnolia. Lincoln Junior High ended up moving out to a nearly 70 acre parcel of property located just north of West Vine Drive that was donated to the city and school district by Elliott Heidekoper.
In last year’s post I tallied up Washington’s namesakes and came up with 3 streets named after him, 1 park, 1 school, and possibly 1 bar. Lincoln, on the other hand, had 3 streets, 1 park, arguably 2 schools, and the city’s cultural center. It’s hard to tell if that makes him the “winner” though, given that the park has since been renamed, as have two of the streets and one of the schools. That would leave Lincoln with a present day presence of 1 street, 1 school, and a cultural center. From what I can tell, Fort Collins used to love Mr. Lincoln a whole lot more back in the day, but we have a marginal preference for Washington these days.
I’ve included a photo here of Lincoln Junior High back in the day. I found this image online (but didn’t keep track of where *snap*). When I was researching the start date of Lincoln Junior High, most people I talked to referred generally to the date that the high school moved out as the beginning of the junior high. But that’s only the date when the building was first called by that name. The junior high itself (meaning the teachers and the students) got their start in 1922 according to the Fort Collins Courier. You can read more about the beginnings of Fort Collins’ first junior high by clicking through to my previous post on the topic.