Celebrating Our Roots
Now that we’ve broken ground and begun restoration, we think it might be time to offer a little history on the building that inspired us to create Ginger and Baker.
The Northern Colorado Feeders Supply building has been a part of the fabric of Fort Collins since the turn of the last century, serving as a store, grain elevator, warehouse and gathering place. Since the early 1900's, farmers and ranchers have brought and bought grain, drunk coffee, talked about crops and, of course, the weather. Townspeople have stopped by to visit and buy a bag of dog food or maybe a few baby chicks for backyard coops.
Now that the building is on the National Register of Historic Places and the State Register of Historic Properties, we’re working to restore and preserve its historic architectural details, as well as the character and charm that made it a symbol of community and honest, locally produced food.
The property offers a great window into Ft. Collins' history. Back in 1864, the land where our building now sits abutted the parade grounds of the original fort that was Fort Collins. Fast forward to 1910, when the building (first named the Poudre Elevator Company) was constructed on the corner of Linden and Willow Streets, conveniently near the tracks of the Colorado and Southern Railway. The original structures included a single story office/retail section facing Linden, a two-story grain elevator and a hay warehouse. By then, Ft. Collins had a population of 8,200 and sheep and sugar beets helped keep the economy going.
In 1917, the building became the Co-operative Mercantile Company and in 1922, it was renamed the Farmers Elevator and Produce Co. By this time, the population had surpassed 9,000 and farming was still a mainstay. Colorado State Agricultural College would soon celebrate its farming roots by tasking freshmen to whitewash the first “A” (for Aggies) on a hill overlooking Ft. Collins.
During the Depression and WWII, the building went through several owners and names (Reid's Elevator, Farmer's Co-op), and survived the post-war building boom that saw many historic places disappear. By 1957, the building had become the Feeders Supply Company. In other news, town population had doubled and the ag college (then Colorado A & M) became Colorado State University.
In 1976, Dennis Nater bought the place and continued to supply the community until the family sold to a development company in 2014. (The Northern Colorado Feeders Supply business has since moved to 300 Hickory Street.) Jack and Ginger Graham bought the property in 2015 and began rolling up their sleeves to make Ginger and Baker a reality.
Construction and restoration on this old place presents a unique set of challenges. The Historic Assessment sums it up pretty well: "Some alterations are ’cowboy’ or ‘farmer’ construction, referring to something being building hastily to meet an immediate need by a person not well-versed in the craft.”
But 'cowboy construction' aside, the building’s stone foundation is sound, while the interior boasts sturdy brick walls, patinaed wooden beams and sliding doors that have withstood the test of time. Those sliding doors are among the historic details that we’ve been charged with preserving, as well as the Linden Street façade with its distinctive recessed entrance and several thick, wavy, handmade original windows that are still intact.
We’re also shoring up the gable roof and grain elevator that attest to the building's purpose, and the stepped parapets that add unique personality to this old place that's served Ft. Collins for more than 100 years. And while you'll no longer be able to purchase local grain, you'll definitely find a mighty fine selection of locally made pies.
Take a peek at a few photos of the building and restoration finds below. (Click on the first photo and scroll through for closeups and descriptions.)
We can't wait to share more of our plans as we sweep out the grain and start revitalizing the old building and constructing the new. Stay tuned to the blog for monthly restoration updates (and recipes, of course). Thanks for being a part of our adventure!