Famous Landmarks in Fort Collins – D Dennison’s Top Five
The words from my head to my fingers flow so slowly today because of the excitement of my topic. I love Fort Collins, the history, the culture, the diversity… I love everything and I just don’t know where to begin. I made Fort Collins my home of home’s over 15 years ago. I selected this area after months of researching the entire United States! This was the best place for me. I loaded up three of the four kids, number four wasn’t here yet, and packed up the moving truck.
I was like a kid in a candy store when I arrived in Fort Collins. Like Dorothy, I immediately said, there’s no place like home! I dove into the culture right away, walking the streets of old town, staring up at the sky at city park and eating everything in site. I dined at great restaurants, little diners and discovered Walrus ice cream. It didn’t take me long to realize this place, only once known as northern Colorado, would more appropriately be called, HOME.
There are so many landmarks here, when I started to think about my top five, I was a bit overwhelmed. Famous landmarks in Fort Collins, what are my favorite? I wrote them down and ended up with a lot more than five. So, it was back to the drawing board. The following famous landmarks are my top five favorites, but someday make time for all the Fort Collins has to offer.
The Armstrong Hotel
Last isn’t always bad when you’re talking about the Armstrong. When speaking of hotels is was the last to open, but is now the only one of its era still in operation. It opened in 1923, thrived and died. The Armstrong actually sat empty and quiet for sometime. That is until it was revived.
The Levinger family bought the building in 2002 and breathed new life into this landmark. Keeping as much of the history alive with their renovations the Levinger’s have successfully given us back this fascinating charmer.
Today you can choose your own room, vintage or modern and kick back a take in all that old town has to offer, as it will be right outside your window overlooking College Avenue. And if you get daring, head downstairs and around the corner to the Chocolate Cafe.
Birney Streetcar #21
This mainstay of Fort Collins has a past like an old friend. She has been faithful, energetic and tired. Oddly, last year when my James and I were staying at the Armstrong Hotel for our anniversary, we ventured out to ride old #21. We stood here at this corner and watched her seemingly breathe her last breath. I have read, however, #21, originally build in 1919, is slated to comeback in May. She will travel from city park along West Mountain Avenue like she has for three decades. The Fort Collins Municipal Railway Society, an all volunteer group will begin the new season of operations May 1.
The Avery House
I’m not sure what it is about the Avery house. I just know when I am near it, on the lawn, on the porch or just walking by, I can feel its history. I can sense those who have come and gone. No, I am not implying that it is haunted, I’m just saying that it has a charm that engages me. The Avery house was built in 1879. It represents the founding fathers of Fort Collins and has served as a military post. The home is open to the public twice weekly, is a center for local events and may be rented for weddings and such.
The Harmony School
This is not a structure that you can ignore. It has such great character and represents the livelihood of Fort Collins itself. The Harmony School was built in 1931. Its original use was to house farming families. The building itself was quite ‘modern’ for its day and possible a pillar of the new age. The 1930’s brought new life into Fort Collins. In 1997 the Harmony school was renovated and saved from destruction for our future generations to enjoy. It now houses a thriving preschool.
The Silver Grill
If you’ve been in Fort Collins for a week or twenty years, you surely already know about the Silver Grill. Talk about the American dream that just kept growing, the Silver Grill has definitely earned its spot in my top five famous landmarks.
Sure, they may have amazing pastries, eggs Benedict and ambiance, but to know the story is to fall in love with this ‘little’ business. This restaurant dates back to 1912.
In 1979, the Grill was sold to John Arnolfo, and then partner, Mike Gress. The Grill closed November 1987 to expand into it’s second building. Reopening in January 1988, the Grill continued to grow and prosper with the increased popularity of its giant cinnamon rolls. In the summer of 1990, buildings three and four were acquired and another expansion was in the future. A fifth building was acquired and another dining room was opened in March 1996. In the summer of 2000, the last major expansion was completed, which included a newly remodeled kitchen and restroom area. In the spring of 2003, a back outdoor patio was opened. Today, John, with his sons Zach and Sam own the Silver Grill.