This Old House

“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.” – James Baldwin

In March of 2018, I’m not tramping through the alleyways of Cairo, or watching glassmakers in Bida, or meeting the director of Karakalpakstan Art Museum in Nukus, or sitting with silk farmers in the mountains of Syria. No, my task is to sell my family home of 100 years (98 and ½ years to be exact) in Colorado…the home of four generations.

Since I left the USA in 1971 to marry my husband in Lebanon and move to West Africa, my cultural identity, lifestyle, family, community ties have not been that from where I came. After nearly fifty years, twice the time outside of the USA, my identity is chameleon-like or camouflaged. I don’t think too much about my heritage except now as I am letting go of the last property of my family heritage, I offer my appeasement to:

 This Old HouseIMG_6499

Both sides of my mother’s family arrived in the late 1600s to the ‘new world’. My father’s family arrive in the mid-1800 first through Canada then to Colorado. My parents were raised in a small community along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

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Loveland, in northern Colorado, at foothills of Rocky Mountains

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Original neighborhood on 6th Street

There, one of the family homes, has remained in our family. Three years ago my, then, 92-year-old mother decided to move to Florida and live with her daughter, my younger sister, Lynn Kitchen. Mother could no longer maintain the house and decided to sell. For many reasons, I felt a responsibility to keep the house in the family. So purely on an emotion decision, I bought the house from my mother. Soon to realize that maintaining such a house when I do not live in the USA was an expensive burden. Yet engulfed in guilt, I chastised myself, “how could I spend much of my time writing about other people’s heritage when I cannot save my own?” But money was flying out of my bank account going into a property with which I could not build a future. With a heavy heart, I began to clear out, throw out and hold on.P1000511

March and April and May, these months, I polished the brass door knobs and wax the wood floors; I piled the last of the boxes and bags on the lawn for the charity to haul off; I jotted down historical notes of this 1920 house and whispered out-loud to my great aunt who built the house those many years ago. I readied the house and garden to see the day when the FOR SALE sign was hammered into the lawn along the corner sidewalk.

The house is cleared of things now.

 

It is different, emptied, probably more like when it was first built…an empty vessel to put memories into; now an empty vessel again, waiting.   P1000280

So in honor of my family heritage, this is the story of 610 North Jefferson as told by cultural historian, Carl McWilliams and my mother, Pollyann Baird:

Harter House was constructed in 1920 at a cost of $32,255.53 (with inflation, today, that amount would equal: $404,074.70). Designed by renowned architect, Robert K. Fuller, the house is among northern Colorado’s best examples of the Craftsman style of architecture. When the house was built, the lots were graced by five stately elm trees, today it is professionally landscaped with green lawn, heritage rose garden, cedar trees and shrubs, and several Norwegian maple trees.

 

The 2-storey house features an irregular plan It is supported by a concrete foundation and has solid brown brick masonry walls. There is a full basement beneath the home. The home’s solid brick walls are laid in common bond, and there are battered brick piers at the corners. Cream colour stucco, with false hall-timbering, appears in the upper gable ends on the south and west elevations, and in the upper half storey on the east elevation. The roof is broadly pitched, and features intersecting clipped gables, green asphalt shingles, and widely-overhanging boxed eaves. An original sleeping porch is on the north elevation. There are three brown brick chimneys.

The Craftsman-style porch features brick steps flanked by black wrought iron railings, brick flooring laid in herringbone pattern, and brick pedestals with large urns. The windows feature decorative window boxes with Craftsman detailing.

 

The interior of the home’s main and upper floor is divided into ten rooms including a vestibule, parlour, dining room, kitchen and breakfast room, conservatory (smoking room), an office, sleeping porch, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and attic. There are six room in the basement, the largest of which is the billiards room and used to practice ballroom dancing. Other rooms in the basement include the fruit cellar, laundry room, coal room, a boiler room, and workshop with an original built-in work bench.

The home has tongue-in-groove maple flooring, except in the parlour which has oak flooring. The interior wood work is stained natural brown with distinctive diamond-shaped motifs adorning the interior. The main stairway is pure Craftsman with a square newel post, carved balusters, curved hand rails, and wide stair risers that give way to a graceful ascent to the second floor.

 

All original light fixtures are intact as are the original bathroom fixtures including a pull-handle flush toilet.

 

The fireplace tiles are similar to those found on the façade of the Rialto Theatre in Loveland, which were designed by Earnest Batchelder of Pasadena, California. Thirteen decorative tiles echo the glorious past of medieval masters by depicting Viking ships, knights, castles, and stylized animals and birds.P1000323P1000302

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From the parlour, French doors open onto the dining room. All walls feature shoulder high panelled wainscoting. Onto these panels, European (most probably Germans from Russia who arrived in Loveland in 1902) applied a grey-blue paint stippled on with a sponge – a technique named “Tiffany finish”. The original chandelier and scones were specially designed to match the painted walls.

 

A central vacuum system was installed to remove dirt and dust through tubing installed inside the walls to a collection container in a remote utility space in the basement.  Inlets  installed in walls throughout the house that attach to a hose and was meant to be a labor saving device.

 

Also built in 1920, the garage is located north of the house and is connected to the residence by a brick garden wall, where there is a wood gate with a pergola covering. There is a small, pentagon-shaped garden in shed located at the rear northeast corner of the property. Brick garden walls effectively tie the house, garage, and the natural features into a cohesive harmonious landscape design.

 

The Harter/Borland House is historically significant as it has been associated with notable persons of Loveland – Charles A. Harter, Maude E. Harter Borland, Eugene W. Borland, and Pollyann (Castle) Kitchen Baird. The property is architecturally significant for its fine expression of the Craftsman style of architecture and because it was designed by prominent Colorado Architect Robert K. Fuller.

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Left to right: Eugene W. Borland, Maude (Stanfield) Harter Borland, Pollyann (Castle) Kitchen Baird, Charles A. Harter

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1979 Auntie Maude (88 years old) with my children, Omar and Saadiah. Note the luggage on the stairs, Auntie Maude, in her day, called it a ‘grip’.

Robert K. Fuller was born in 1886 in Fort Collins. Robert grew up in Fort Collins and attended Colorado A&M and Cornell University where he received his degree in architecture. By 1910, Fuller had opened and architectural firm in Denver. By 1920, Fuller had designed some of his most notable buildings, including several Colorado courthouses and schools. Work credited to Fuller in Loveland include the Harter House, the Rialto Theatre and Loveland High School, renovation on the Lovelander Hotel and the original Herzinger & Harter Building.IMG_6583 (1)

The Craftsman style house, at the time, was the most popular style of the day. Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement led by Gustav Stickley, the Craftsman style of architecture was principally influenced by the work of brothers, Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene. Popularized throughout the country by pattern books and magazines, examples of the style included both elaborate architecture designed, Craftsman houses as well as more modest bungalows. Stickley philosophy of design stressed comfort, utility and simplicity through the use of natural materials and a lack of pretention. As publisher of the Craftsman, a magazine he founded in 1901, Stickley sought to expound upon the concept of ‘total design,” which sought to integrated the house with its surroundings through all aspects of design: house construction landscaping, interiors and furnishing.

Gustav Stickley’s concept of “total design” is clearly evident in Robert Fuller’s design of the Harter House, executed in 1919. From the complementary architecture of the house and garage to the unifying brick garden wall, to the duplicate pergola roofs over the front porch and gate to the home’s harmonized interior fixtures and furnishings, Fuller’s design embraces all of the elements of the Craftsman style.IMG_6463IMG_0432

A little family history:

Charles A. and Maude E. (Stanfield) Harter were the home’s original owners. In the spring of 1919, they commissioned Fuller to design the house in a style which they referred to as a “Brittany Bungalow.” Construction work on the residence was completed by a contractor named Danielson. Mr. Harter passed away, of complications from Bright’s disease and diabetes, in November 1920 having lived in the new home for less than a year. Mrs Harter, though, lived the rest of her life until her death in December 1992 at the age of 101. Along the way she married her second husband, Eugene W. Borland on December 24, 1926, and eventually passed the house on to her niece (my mother, Pollyann (Castle) Kitchen Baird who, in 2015, sold the house to me, great niece of Maude.

Born in 1889, Charles A. Harter was son of prominent Loveland pioneers Samuel B. and Emma B. Harter. The elder Mr. Harter arrived in Colorado Territory in the years prior to 1871. Determined to capitalize on the burgeoning mining industry, Harter made his way to Caribou, a bustling mining camp located west of Nederland, near the Continental Divide. There Harter entered into a partnership with John Lewis Herzinger, in a mercantile business, they moved their business to Loveland and purchased a corner lot at what is today the northwest corner of East 4th Street and North Cleveland Avenue. At this location, Harter and Herzinger constructed Loveland’s first brick commercial building, a two-storey edifice with the Herzinger and Harter Mercantile on the ground floor and a grange hall on the second floor.

Charles A. Harter grew up in Loveland and attended Colorado College in Colorado Springs where he met Miss Maude Stanfield (my great aunt), also attending Colorado College. They graduated and married in 1916. After his father’s death, Charles took on the family business. In early 1919, the Harters commissioned architect Robert K. Fuller to undertake two project. One was to design their new home at the northeast corner of Jefferson Avenue and East 6thstreet, and the other was to design a major addition to the Lovelander Hotel, which was owned by the Harter family. Charles was diagnosed with Bright disease and diabetes and died in November 1921 at the young age of 31. Auntie Maude was 29 years old. In 1926,  Maude met Gene W. Borland who had founded the Loveland Realty Association, House of Neighbourly Services, and was a successful investment banker. Maude managed the Harter family farms and ranches almost to the day she died in 1992, active in DAR, and many community projects throughout her life.

My mother, Pollyann, lived with Auntie Maude and Uncle Gene and attended Loveland High School where she met my father, Richard S. Kitchen. In 1992, after Auntie Maude’s death, my mother inherited 610 North Jefferson. In 2015, I took over and today, the story ends but not the memories…

In this old house…an attic treasure, a first edition book, The Secret Garden inscribed with a poem from Dudley, my grandmother’s suitor, when she was attending college in Tennessee.

 

***Recognizing that millions of people are forced to leave their homes or their homes are destroyed by natural disasters or by war leaving refugees, homeless, and untold grief, I am grateful to have the opportunity to leave this house peacefully and with love.

 


To read more about the grief of letting go of a family home read:

“Goodbye to the House My Grandmother Built.” By Yasmine El Rashidi

Watch the movie: Nostalgia:”A mosaic of stories about love and loss, exploring our relationship to the objects, artifacts, and memories that shape our lives.”

 

18 thoughts on “This Old House

  1. Absolutely fascinating! I feel for you. Emotionally, it must be really hard to let go of such a treasure. Hope the buyers will take good care of this beautiful “old dame”.

    • Thank you for your comment. It is good to hear from friends during this time. I spent the weekend with plumbing issues…hopefully all are resolved now. L.

  2. Dear Lesley. You never cease to amaze! What a fascinating story and an absolutely exquisite house!! Xox Robin

    • Thank you so much Robin. I really appreciate that you took time to comment from your trip. Hope all is going well and looking forward to hearing all about it. L.

  3. You have carried the strength and grandeur of the Front Range of the USA’s great Colorado Rockies across continents and oceans. You daily share that strength and grandeur with the world’s population. Thank you ! Craig Evan Royce

    • Dear Craig, You are TOO generous. Diversity of identity and culture is faced everyday. I try not to become nostalgic. I hope your work goes well. Thank you so much for your comment. It meant the world to me. L.

  4. Oh! Les! This is breath-taking. Very beautiful. So well done. So meaningful. Thank you so much for doing this. Brings tears of joy to have such a loving perspective as a tribute to the house and to Auntie Maude and everyone you named. Wonderful way to honor the whole process of letting go. Thanks for putting it into your historic blog where we can all enjoy.

    Pausing to remember the good, Lynn

    • I am so happy you like it. I felt I needed to do something to honor the house. I am really pleased you found good memories and peace in it. Here is a poem I jotted down from the movie, Nostalgia: Love, may be all that you have left. Hold it. Let it shine within you, let it find you, let it through that small unseen possibility to wrap its arms around you and take it home.”

  5. This is breath-taking. Very beautiful. So well done. So meaningful…..”This Old House” shall live on in my memory and bring me good feelings for having shared this house with you growing up and with our family members.
    Thank you so much for honoring the house this way. Brings tears of joy to have such a loving perspective as a tribute to the house and to the memory of our Auntie Maude and everyone you named. Wonderful way to honor the whole process of letting go.
    Thanks for putting it into your historic blog where we can all enjoy.
    Pausing to remember the good,
    Your sister,
    Lynn

    • Thank you so much for this … I realize that so many loose their homes under forced evacuation or war and leave everything , so I am grateful to have the time and opportunity to close the house and pass it on in peace and comfort. With love, your sister, Lesley

  6. Excellent work here, Leslie. I spent many hours in this beautiful home with your wonderful mom and loved every minute of it. Pollyann’s plants (some 40+ Years old) are doing very well in my home. Thanks for sharing.

    • Dear Beth, How very kind to receive your comment! I know the plants will flourish under your care and love. They are in the perfect place to grow and bloom. Thank you for all the loving care you and Mother have shared over the years. It is a special time to keep in one’s memory.
      With gratitude, Lelsey

  7. Good day, L. I do hope the family does well. It is good for one to trace his beginning. I really appreciate your effort of renovating this historic house. I wish this house can be transported to Nigeria, specifically my village. You should have analysed the interior of the house before the renovation. You really did a great job by embelishing the house in such awawy to document history. Well presented and analysed.

    • Thank you Murtala! I would love to transport the house to your village! What an interesting concept to transports one’s house from village to village…country to country. Love the idea!
      I am grateful for your comment and Eid Mubarak.
      L.

  8. Hey Leslie- it was sooooooooo wonderful to hear your voice!!! I hope things settled down with the house- i am guessing it sold quickly!! What a beautiful post you wrote- brought tears to my eyes!! I remember you telling me about your mother’s prize winning roses! It must be difficult at times to live so far away! I hope we can connect some day on one of your visits to Estes Park!! things are good for me- i am enjoying being a grandmother & making art & traveling- last year was Morocco & this year Croatan & Guatemala- I do hope to get to Egypt some day!! with love- Deedee >

    • Thank you Deedee! It was wonderful to talk with you too. The house is all ready to have a new family to love it but it hasn’t been sold yet. Luckily I have a wonderful real estate agent and she is taking good care of the house. Hoping this summer will bring a buyer. You are traveling to fascinating countries. Looking for your visit to Egypt!
      With love,
      Lesley

  9. Hello Lesley,
    I am a Realtor in the Fort Collins area, and your home popped up an update report when you recently lowered the price. I saw the link to what you have written so decided to take a look at it before exploring the pictures, etc. As I was reading the fascinating history of the house, I have to say that I was so torn. I kept wanting to go back and look at the details and pictures of the house and yet, I couldn’t pull myself away from what I was reading. I am sorry that it has to leave your family, but I have to say that I respect your decision to sell it so that another family can begin their history there. I hope that you are able to find a buyer quickly.
    Barbara

    • Dear Barbara,
      Thank you so much for your comment. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you reached out. Unfortunately, the house is difficult to sell because of its situation in the middle of downtown Loveland. A beautiful house but the city has grown around it as in so many cities this is the case. So far there has been no interest except people who would like a tour for the history. Well, maybe the right person will come along. Thank you ever so much.
      Lesley

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