Longmont is a thriving community with a historically rich background
While Longmont may not be as well known as neighboring city Denver or the greater Boulder area, it is one of Colorado’s hidden gems and a place worth visiting. Many have put down roots in Longmont thanks to its up-and-coming tech community and its sense of pride and community.
History buffs in particular will find the Longmont area fascinating given its many incredible historic sites.
Callahan House & Garden
Address: 312 Terry Street
The Callahan House & Garden is a gorgeous Queen Anne-style Victorian house that has served as a backdrop for functions and weddings for many years now. It tends to be a little more lively during the warmer months of the year when the Italian garden is in full bloom, and guests can mill about the perimeter enjoying the fountain, gazebo, and vibrant blossoms.
Guests can also visit the interior of the house. Many are spellbound by the intricate woodcarving and stunning stained glass windows. Various rooms in the house are available to rent, or you and your company can rent out the entire house for special events. Whatever the occasion, you’ll feel like you’re attending a regal tea party.
The Callahan House has been preserved in all its majestic glory, and its splendor has attracted thousands of visitors over the decades. In 1938, Alice and Thomas Callahan, who were prosperous merchants, gifted the house to the city of Longmont. You can learn more about the Callahan family history by visiting the home.
D.C. Donovan House
Address: 347 Pratt Street
Designated as a historical landmark in 1980, the D.C. Donovan home has been lovingly maintained for over 100 years by the Donovon family. Only four additional owners have cared for it since it’s construction in 1900. Built on a meticulously landscaped & sprawling corner lot just steps from downtown Longmont and overlooking Thompson Park, this pristine American Foursquare features old world charm and historically rich original details throughout.
D.C. Donovan and his family played an important part in Longmont's advancement. The Donovans moved to Longmont from Denver in 1882 and purchased the Thomas Butler lumber yard, located on the corner of Coffman Street and Fourth Avenue. Later, this yard was moved to the 200 block of Main Street on the east side. In 1887, Donovan and his two brothers, Timothy and John, established the D.C. Donovan Lumber Company. In addition to the lumber business, Donovan owned a small brick yard to the south of what is now known as Spruce Street.
D.C. Donovan was a leading business man and was instrumental in securing a municipal light plant and the Great Western Sugar Company. He served three terms as a Longmont Trustee, was a member of the school board of School District No. 17 from 1902-1913, and was president of the American National Bank and Director and Vice President of the First National Bank.
Old St. Stephen’s Church
Address: 470 Main Street
Built in 1881, St. Stephen's Church has long been revered by the religious community in the area as a center for worship. It is registered in the National Register of Historic Places.
Even if you are not particularly religious, it is still worth a visit to this well-preserved building, as it played a major role in the religious beginnings of the Longmont community. The first service at St. Stephen’s was held in 1882, and it used to be known as the epicenter of the Episcopal Missionary District.
An integral part of Longmont’s development, the Old St. Stephen’s was one of the signature white churches of the plains. The building itself looks similar to how it did when it was first constructed. The white paint applied in 1915 has been removed to restore the church’s exterior to its original red brick.
Hoverhome & Farmstead
Address: 1303-1309 Hover Road
Erected in the early 20th century, the Hoverhome is a sprawling Gothic Revival home that once belonged to Charles Lewis Hover. Born in Wisconsin in 1867, Hover joined his brother in the wholesale drug business and then married Katherine Avery in 1898. He purchased the land that would eventually become Hoverhome in 1902 to begin the life of a farmer.
Katherine and Charlies adopted a bright nine-year-old girl in 1907. She aided her mother in creating a retirement community where people could live in an interesting and pleasant atmosphere. The elegant Hoverhome became a place for tranquility and healing.
The Hover family was considered a bastion of hope and leadership in the community. The Hoverhome and its farmstead are reminders of Longmont’s agricultural legacy and serve as a symbol of the community’s growth since the 20th century.
In 1997, the Hoverhome and the Hover Farmstead were purchased by the St. Vrain Historical Society. It was officially declared a landmark and was subsequently added to the National Register in 1999. The property is used to host many fundraising events and even wedding ceremonies.
Longmont Carnegie Library
Address: 457 4th Avenue
The battle to get a Carnegie library installed in Longmont was a long and difficult one. In his later years, Andrew Carnegie, the renowned steel magnate, invested millions of dollars in constructing thousands of libraries across the country.
For Longmont to get a Carnegie, they needed to raise a certain amount of funds before Carnegie would match them and thus allow them to move forward with construction. Ultimately, it fell upon some of the wealthier Longmont residents to allocate money to a private fund that went toward securing a prestigious Carnegie library.
When the library officially opened in 1913, it only had 4,600 books. According to Times Call, by its final years in the 1970s, the library had acquired more than 37,348 books. While Longmont’s Carnegie Library has not functioned as one in many decades, it remains a vital part of the town’s history.
Apart from its many books, the library also acquired a portrait of George Washington and even a deer head gifted by an alderman. No one is quite clear on what happened to the hunting trophy. The Renaissance Revival-style building is now a registered National Landmark.
Longmont Fire Department Station 1
Address: 667 4th Avenue
While no longer in use as a firehouse, the Longmont Fire Department Station first became active in 1907 and remained so until 1971. It may not be in use as a fire station anymore, but the Fire Department is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, like many other notable landmarks in Longmont.
Even though it is one of the oldest fire departments in town, it is not actually the town’s first fire department. The first one was located on 4th Avenue and Coffman Street. The town paid over $200 for an 845-pound bell, which alerted the community to emergencies and could reportedly be heard for miles.
That firehouse was eventually torn down and a new one, which became Station 1, was erected on Terry Street. It was designed to mimic the original building, and the bell was relocated to the new site. The original fire pole, which helps firefighters easily get from the second floor to ground level, was also moved there.
Sandstone Ranch Park
Address: 3001 Colorado Highway 119
Serving as both a community center and a source of considerable cultural significance, Sandstone Ranch Park has evolved into a hot spot for both locals and visitors in the Longmont area.
The park extends across over 300 acres, consisting of walking trails, historic buildings, sandstone bluffs, picnic areas, a skate park, and even an outdoor adventure playground. For those keen to explore the history of the land and the surrounding terrain, stop by The Visitors & Learning Center.
The center is erected on land that was first homesteaded by the Coffin family in 1860. The house was officially declared a landmark in 2000.
Inside the center are exhibits and hands-on activities dedicated to teaching the geological, natural, and cultural history of the property, as well as the history of the Coffin family and Longmont. Exhibits include a peek at what life was like over 100 years ago.
Dickens Opera House
Address: 300 Main Street
William Henry Dickens, a relative of the legendary author Charles Dickens, erected the Dickens Opera House in 1881. At the time, it was the first opera house in Colorado. It was Dickens’ goal to invite culture and performing arts into the area.
At the time, Dickens was a profitable landowner whose own father had been given the plot of land by President Ulysses S. Grant. Before becoming an opera house, the building served as a bank; the original vault is still intact.
There are rumors of ghosts haunting the old rooms, like the famous Tin Room where one can see portraits from the early days. Supposedly, there is an image of a headless waitress visible in one of the pictures. In the past, the homeless were invited to stay the night in the opera house— as long as they assisted in the cleanup. Some say they remain there, their spirits still roosting in the place they once called home.
Located downstairs is the famous Dickens 300 Prime, a tavern that has become a popular spot for nightlife. Renovated in 2010, the opera house hosts concerts, events, and even wedding ceremonies.
Old Mill Park
Address: 237-239 Pratt Street
The St. Vrain Historical Society has developed a plot of land that once contained one of the town’s original flour mills into a historical park with multiple preserved buildings.
According to the official Longmont, Colorado website, the area is home to the Billings Cabin, the Secor Centennial Garden, the Hubbard House, the Affolter Cabin, the Mill Pond, the Townley House, and the Hauck Milk House. J.W. Denio owned the flour mill, which was the second built in Longmont. It burned down in 1931, and the plot of land was refurbished into what is known as the Old Mill Park today.
The Mill Pond is the only remaining part of the flour mill. Visitors can check out the Ditch Run and Mill Wheel that was created with funding provided by the City of Longmont as part of a Centennial-Bicentennial Project. The park is an excellent place to discover more about Longmont’s history through these many historically significant buildings that preserve the sense of previous centuries.
You can get a taste of life in this historic town and learn more about homes for sale in Longmont by contacting us today.
*Photo credit: Visit Longmont