Liam Adams is an independent journalist in Denver writing for local and national outlets.  

History of history: celebrating the life of Fort Lupton's ancient homes

Originally published for Fort Lupton Press.

Homes are not just shells containing brick, wood and windows. They are holiday celebrations, sick days in bed, and a Sunday afternoon in the garden. They possess memories, emotions and the multiplicity of life itself.

As Fort Lupton prepares to celebrate newly surveyed historic homes, the Fort Lupton Press decided to not just learn about the oldness of the homes, but to explore the life that’s existed within.

The $20,756 survey was conducted by SWCA Environmental Consultants in Broomfield to learn more about the late 19th and early 20th century homes within the town. Now, the owners of the twenty residencies have a choice of whether their house is to be considered historic.

Benefits include tax credits and public indications of their historicity, said Alyssa Knutson, a city planner. The fallbacks include needing approval from the Fort Lupton Historical Board for major alterations.

153 Park Avenue. Photo by Liam Adams

153 Park Avenue. Photo by Liam Adams

Bob Thompson and his wife Janice are “on the fence,” of whether to designate their 113-year-old “St. John’s Home” as Fort Lupton historic. They’re held back by the prospect of exterior renovations.

Designation or not, Thompson is proud to live somewhere as special as 153 Park Avenue. He enjoys admiring the majestic fire place in the corner of the dining room and the spiraling wooden stair case found upon entering the house. It’s common for folks to come by and say, “they can’t believe a place like this existed,” said Thompson.

Another ancient, famous building in Fort Lupton is 404-408 Pacific Avenue. Carole Price reflects upon her life there with appreciation and discomfort. Her childhood memories were great, but her later years as a landlord weren’t. Price, who grew up in the house, returned as the trustee in 2010 when her mom passed away.

Though the construction date for 404 is disputed, the entire building was completed by 1918 when a Japanese individual named J. Yamashita moved in to start a grocery store for fellow Japanese farmers in the area, according to the survey report.

In 1947, the Price family moved in. Due to the house’s grocer history, there were many special features they discovered, the freight elevator being best among them.

Basement upon descending freight elevator at 408 Pacific Ave. Photo by Liam Adams.

Basement upon descending freight elevator at 408 Pacific Ave. Photo by Liam Adams.

The elevator, located in the corner of the bathroom in 408, is a wooden platform in the ground that is lowered through a rope and pulley system. Upon its descent, a dark, cement encased basement appears.

Price says that having to operate the ropes to go store canned goods gave her an intense workout. In middle school, when boys would make fun of most girls’ muscles, they would always be aghast upon squeezing her arms, said Price.

Her most fond memory before leaving the house at 18 for school and overseas living was when her dad, Sterling, operated a burger stand out the front window.

“People used to go on dates and then they would come over and get his hamburgers at 15 cents apiece,” she said. In the “little podunk town,” everyone knew about the hamburger stand at 4th and Pacific.

Returning in 2010 was more challenging because, as the newly named owner, Price was responsible for other renters. In the time Price had left, her mom had sectioned off parts of the house to rent out.

404-408 Pacific Avenue. Photo by Liam Adams.

404-408 Pacific Avenue. Photo by Liam Adams.

Though Price didn’t detail poor renter experiences, she said it was a tremendous relief to have the house sold in October 2017. Price says that living at 404-408 Pacific hasn’t been “good or bad, it just is.”

After renting the house for a little longer, she plans on moving to a more urban area.

Similar to Price, living at 139 Park Avenue has been sad and joyous for Don Richardson. Richardson followed his wife’s lead in purchasing, preserving and renovating the property. Any request Heather Marhoefer made, Richardson would carry out.

Being a master carpenter and plumber, Richardson worked hard to maintain the exterior’s era correct style, while updating the interior to accommodate their living standards. The outside may be early 20th century, but the inside is 21st century. The most recent update: a new kitchen with hydraulic cabinet doors and an under-the-counter microwave that emerges at the press of a button.

At the same time, the wraparound porch and the original wooden doors with leaded glass was kept intact, making it eligible for the State Register of Historic Places.

139 Park Avenue. Photo by Liam Adams.

139 Park Avenue. Photo by Liam Adams.

Richardson’s house carries more than one type of historical significance. On top of its 113-year-old lifetime, every corner of the house reminds him of his wife who passed away in October 2017.

In a few months, Richardson will put the house on the market. He has another place in Brighton and it’s difficult to financially maintain both homes at once. Amidst the solemnness, however, he also looks back at his time with gratitude.

His favorite memories are when all of Marhoefer’s family would come over for Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. This house, Richardson says, is, “not like a cramped spot that you would have in a little box house…You walk in and it’s like home.”

Japanese script in the garage of 404-408 Pacific Avenue. Photo by Liam Adams.

Japanese script in the garage of 404-408 Pacific Avenue. Photo by Liam Adams.

Hallway in between 404 and 408 Pacific Avenue. Photo by Liam Adams.

Hallway in between 404 and 408 Pacific Avenue. Photo by Liam Adams.

139 Park Avenue II. Photo by Liam Adams.

139 Park Avenue II. Photo by Liam Adams.

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