Hereford Colorado Townsite - Ghost town
Photos courtesy of Mike Sinnwell 2005
This is one of Colorado's Plains Ghost towns. The day I was here a group of people were cleaning up the town. Several of the buildings I wanted pictures of were obstructed by pay loaders, dump trucks etc so you have to settle for these photos.
Went back a couple years later and got some winter photos. I was told one of these houses was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Can you guess which one?
A viewer writes. - May 2009 - I believe that's it. (The house Frank Lloyd Wright designed - third row second and third pictures) Several different functions over the years. Maybe even a bed and breakfast. I grew up and live in Greeley and as a kid we explored, hunted, prowled the prairies/plains rather than the mountains west of us. Pawnee Nat'l Grasslands and so forth. Something has always drawn me to the old prairie towns, both living and gone. Sad to see the old, tumble down places because somebody's hopes and dreams tumbled before the buildings did. Love the vastness of the plains and nothing is more beautiful than the prairie in bloom with spring rains. Wildflowers as far as the eye can see. In my "old days long gone" we preferred the prairie because it seemed every one else including our friends always went to the mountains. We always had the prairie to ourselves. By the way, the mother of an old high school chum of mine taught school in Keota back in the 20's or 30's. Her name was Mary Olsen. Keep up the good work! As soon as I can I'll put something in the "Tip jar".
A viewer writes - August 2009 - Thanks for putting in the suggested (and accurate) change. What a great website! Thanks also for now including the Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in Hereford pictures. This style was known as his "Prairie style" design. Can you believe? By the way, the bank in Hereford was held up at gunpoint back in the thirties (twenties?). That whole area up there was very active and populated from the cowherd days through the homesteading days until the Dust Bowl times. Most of the homesteaders pulled out then and many moved to near Longmont. The famous Crow Creek Cow Camp was up around there where the branded free range cattle were rounded up an sorted out to their various outfits and owners by those brands. A very big deal in the old cowboy days and even into the twenties. Ah, yes. Trails plowed under and all that. Regards, Phil Tallman
A viewer writes – Wednesday January 4th 2012 -- Hi Mike, My mother went to school in Hereford and I am with my mother today.... She is now 89 years old but provided more info about the question, Did Frank Lloyd Wright design or build the building? She recognizes the nice building as her school. She said some people from Chicago area named Findisen came out and built the Hereford Inn. She thinks the building with the side of large sun windows might be the inn, but she said it was much nicer then, and as kids they used to run in and use the restrooms at will. My mother is going to get in touch with her school chum and get more info on the family from Chicago....I was wrong about Frank Lloyd Wright designing the school....it was perhaps designed by one of his students. She said the family from Chicago did a land swap and got land in Hereford with the idea of building a large wheat farm. They dredged land, built canals and even built a golf course on the prairie. Mr. Findisen died in a plane crash; he had a plane of his own, and the development went through several hands, and "they destroyed" it (the vision of what was to be) in my mother's opinion....I'll alert my cousins to your site and will see what else we can add. Please feel free to use our input on the website. Anita
A viewer writes - Monday August 12th 2013 -- I was fascinated with the Hereford inn, I was looking for pictures that would show it in its glory. It's for sale. Only $120,000 Just thought I'd let you know. Sincerely, Alanna =)
A viewer writes -- Monday March 23,2015 -- Greetings, My parents moved to Hereford in 1918 and operated the In in the late 20's Or early 30's. ":Grandfather" Findisen (sp) bought a large amount of land and built (along with his sons-in-laws several buildings including the Inn and our house which burned in 1934. More info if you would like. Mike,
Thanks for your reply. I am writing an article on my life and wanted to talk about Hereford, so decided to see if anything was on the internet. Found your site and was interested in the comments. My parents moved to Hereford in 1918 to take part in "Grandfather" Findisen's dream. Mother wrote quite a lot about Hereford. While operating the Inn Grandfather stayed there and regularly talked with mother as she was the only person in town that was fluent in German. This could go on for a long time but it is probably better if I send the part of my history dealing with Hereford. Most of our pictures of Hereford burned when our house burned down in 1933 but I have several including stationary when my folks ran the Inn. I am a slow writer so be patient. Keep in touch. (I can appreciate your problems on the website. Bill Gates is not my friend.) Jack.
This bit of Hereford history from John Doerges. THANKS John,
My parents moved to Hereford in 1918 and operated the Inn during the late 20's and early 30's. Grandfather Findisen bought a large amount of land and built several buildings including the Inn and our house which burned in 1934. More info if you would like.
Here is what we get when we ask for more..
I am writing my autobiography and have included a little about the Hereford Inn. My folks ran the Inn for a few years at the time of the depression and helped start the town of Hereford. I have a few pictures of the Inn and the Conzelman house that Dad bought. I also have a sheet of Inn stationary used when mother operated the Inn. Most of the family pictures taken at Hereford were lost when our house burned in 1933. A little section of my story is follows; let me know if it is of interest to you. I have quite a bit of info on Hereford in mother's scribbling.
The Findeisen's had come to Hereford with between one and two million dollars (according to Mary) which was a lot of money then as well as now. Nevertheless it didn't go far when putting in an irrigation system, building a $50,000 hotel and building other expensive homes. In the fall of 1929 the depression was getting grim. The younger members Findeisen family had gradually moved away to Denver, Pueblo, Chicago, and Miami, Florida. The question was what to do with Grandfather, Grandmother, Aunt Nellie and the Doergeses. A decision was reached whereby Mary would manage the Hereford Inn and take care of the elderly in return for free room and board at the Inn for the family. The Conzelman house main floor was rented to a schoolteacher and his wife with the upstairs being rented to overflow customers at the Inn. The Doergeses moved in August 1929 with just clothing and Mary's grand piano. The Inn had a restaurant sized kitchen with a walk in refrigerator and freezer.
One curious story at the Inn is worth telling. Grandfather was sick and in the hospital so the women decided to clean his room while he was gone. During the cleaning a stash of liquor was discovered in Grandfather's room. The discovery was related during supper: Hans Waage a young German immigrant asked "What did you do with it?". The women replied they had poured it down the toilet whereupon Hans asked "Did you flush it?" (Prohibition was the law of the land at that time.)
"Into each life a little rain must fall" understates the problems the family encountered in the next few years. The depression was worsening. Creditors were harassing the elderly Findeisens over outstanding bills on the farms, even though the Inn was holding its own. Walt (Grandfather's son) and Pauline Findeisen had given up of running the Blue Parrot restaurant in Denver and decided to take over the Inn. The Doerges family moved back home in 1931. Bob said "This is the last time I'm moving that piano!" and it was. Walt and Pauline gave up operating the Inn and one day they just got up and walked out, leaving the Inn vacant: (This was probably in 1932 or 1933 based on a confrontation between Pauline and Mary that I remember.)
This bit of Hereford history from Anita Brunner. THANKS Anita,
Hi Mike, I am with my mother today....more info: she recognizes the nice building as her school. She said some people from Chicago area named Findisen came out and built the Hereford Inn. She thinks the building with the side of large sun windows might be the inn, but she said it was much nicer then, and as kids they used to run in and use the restrooms at will. My mother is going to get in touch with her school chum and get more info on the family from Chicago....I was wrong about Frank Lloyd Wright designing the school....it was perhaps designed by one of his students. She said the family from Chicago did a land swap and got land in Hereford with the idea of building a large wheat farm. They dredged land, built canals and even built a golf course on the prairie. Mr. Findisen died in a plane crash; he had a plane of his own, and the development went through several hands, and "they destroyed" it (the vision of what was to be) in my mother's opinion....I'll alert my cousins to your site and will see what else we can add. Please feel free to use our input on the website.
November 2017 a view writes - To Whom It May Concern:
I want to personally thank Mike Sinnwell for taking the photos of Hereford, Colorado in 2005. My parents lived there in the 1940's to 1950. My only two memories are of the farm where we lived when I was very little and the school house. I couldn't attend the school because I was too young, but I was attracted to it by the sound of children voices. I remember when I tried going in, someone, probably a teacher, took me back outside and left me near the front porch. I couldn't understand, and I got angry and pitched a rock through one of the glass panes in the front door. I know I got in trouble, but don't remember anything afterwards. It figures, I would never forget the school. It look so sad abandoned there now. There is one other picture of a white house (picture 27/31) on farm land, that reminds me a little of the farm house my parents owned, though I doubt its the one. My dad several acres of farmland. Probably none of the buildings, etc., exist now. I don't have any record of an address now as both my parents are gone.
Thanks, Mike!❤ (you are welcome - Mike )
On Thu, Nov 29, 2018 at 1:41 PM - Hereford - The mystery houses has a Chicago connection. It started out innocent enough.
Lisa Temkin wrote: - It was John Van Bergen, the architect that built these buildings. We believe he was hired by someone that owned or inherited the property but lived here in Chicago. Van Bergen was born and raised in Oak Park, IL, where Frank Lloyd Wright lived, and their mothers were friends.
Van Bergen built many very fine examples of Prairie Style buildings, mostly residences, but also schools, multi-family buildings and one commercial building in my town, HIghland Park, Illinois. I went to Braeside School in Highland Park, designed by Van Bergen, and then bought the VB house that I've lived in for 24 years. The buildings in Hereford are definitely the Prairie Style! Please send more historic photos or anything that substantiates any of the info about Hereford!
Rocky responds. – Lisa, I would like to post your comments in both the guest book and the Hereford page. But I only do that with your permission. Your information is useful and I know several people would appreciate seeing it.
Lisa Temkin, writes - Michael, I’ve been reading all kinds of info about Hereford and can see there are several connections to Chicago. The article from the Aug. 12, 1976 paper Town & Country News has an article written by Andy Beck (I looked him—he’s passed away). He was correct that the Hereford Inn and other buildings in the area were built by an architect that was one of the “Chicago 18” Prairie School guys….Van Bergen was the last architect in Chicago to work for FLW, but FLW is the only name most people know. There were many creative and good architects that worked in the style and were part of the “18”. I could give you tons and tons of info on all that and specifically on John Van Bergen. VB’s daughter, Nancy, told biographer, Marty Hackl, that she and her mother (and one of Nancy’s sons) drove to Hereford en route from Chicago to California. She was able to recall 4 buildings that her dad had built—the Inn, Hereford School, post office and town hall. I know the Inn still exists—Van Bergen buildings are very well built!
You’re welcome to post any of the info I’ve provided. I can also send you photos of other buildings from the Chicago area that look similar to those in Hereford. There are dead giveaway elements that make VB structures easily identifiable, at least to those of us that know the work. Deep eaves, brick, stucco, wood—all organic materials and natural/organic colors (found in nature). The buildings would be very well sited—VB considered views from windows, relationship to street, neighbors, nature, etc. Also look for details in chimneys. Chimney massing is large, brick and sometimes have patterns in the brick at the top. Chimneys never are on front facade of structures. There is very little—if any—decorative detailing—all part of the American style, no European influenced details. Buildings feel very horizontal by using board and batten, stucco, lots of windows—all strategically placed and consistent in size and proportion. Many of the houses/buildings have built in furniture—in dining rooms, living rooms, etc. All the Chicago buildings have red quarry tiles at the entrances—kind of Van Bergen’s signature. The red color is a color found in nature, like all the colors VB used. I could go on and on, but feel free to use any of this info and if you want additional photos just let me know. I’m working on tracing a Hereford family from one of the photos I received with the last name Small. They were from Illinois. Van Bergen’s sister, Jessie, married a man named Herbert Small. I’m trying to track down if Herbert was the brother of Ara Small (married to Hattie, child Ila). So use what you like. Questions??
Rocky Responds - WOW THANKS a lot as I will post all to the web site. Just don't be impatient as this is my hobby and that means I work on my hobbies when the chance arrives. Sort of a "I will get around to it" Hope you understand. I am ready to leave for the mountains in a few minutes so it will be awhile.
Lisa – says - Michael,I understand you’ve got a life and staying on top of hobbies like yours, well, it can be very time-consuming! It’s like researching old buildings and the path is seldom direct!
I did want to ask you if you know whether or not the Colorado SHPO knows about the Hereford Inn and the three other Van Bergen Prairie Style buildings. I’ve reached out to the NAPC, National Alliance for Preservation Commissions. They have people that do trainings on assessing historic structures, etc. The SHPO, State Historic Preservation Office, are the people in each state that help property owners receive tax benefits for renovating, restoring or repurposing historic structures that meet all the tax freeze criteria and thresholds, etc. (that’s a very long other story). But I wanted to let the NAPC and SHPO people know about the buildings in Hereford. I’m quite sure there are very few if any docs that would point to Van Bergen. Maybe docs or drawings were left inside the buildings—that’s not uncommon. In attics, walls, etc.
The Hereford Inn was purchased 2 years ago by a private owner and that person COULD POTENTIALLY get some benefits for renovation (the Inn looks like it was uninhabitable as it was) so someone should reach out to the owner! Hopefully it’s not too late! When a building is renovated and the owner applies for the tax benefit renovation standards must be met and the building must be renovated following guidelines, keeping integrity, etc.
Do you any anything about who’s aware of the existence of the buildings other than people that might drive by them or live in the area? Anyone “official”? Where do you live, exactly?
I’ve also pieced together that one of the articles I received mentioned an architect that worked for FLW whose name began with an S and he spoke German. I’m pretty sure it was Rudolph Schindler, a very important architect in his own right. Worked here in Chicago for FLW and was from Vienna before coming to Chicago. Schindler went on to have a very successful career in Los Angeles. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolph_Schindler_(architect)
Hope to hear from you, even if you can’t get the info on your website for awhile!
Rocky Helps out a little – FYI maybe this helps - Although my contacts at Colorado SHPO are all long gone perhaps you can help me direct Lisa in the right direction. Please read her note below. Thank you Michael, I'll refer Lisa to staff that can best assist her.
Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation- History Colorado - 1200 Broadway - Denver CO, 80203
Lisa says - Mike, I thought I’d give you the latest info on the Prairie Style buildings in Hereford. Thanks to the Weld County Research Center and someone at the History Colorado Center in Denver, I’ve identified the four buildings that Chicago architect John Van Bergen built. We’ll be traveling to Denver/Greeley/Hereford in April. I’m hoping to have accumulated enough info by then to give copies of everything to the people who’ve helped me dig this stuff up.
Next step is reaching out to potential family members of the original owners and try to find permits from the mid-19-teens. W. H. Werder is the person that hired Van Bergen to design and build the structures in Hereford. VB had designed a house for Werder here in Chicago—in Oak Park, actually. I believe Findelson was also from Chicago. I’ve uncovered some very interesting tidbits. We’d like to be able to contact the current owners of each of the properties and perhaps see interiors. Here’s the James Irving House that’s now in Evanston, Illinois. Looks like the Hereford Inn, right?
I’ve learned that permits don’t exist and in county records—I mean permits to build buildings, etc. Original tax records may tell me who the original owners were of the properties. I think going to the articles I received from the Weld County research people might offer the most insight to people who lived in Hereford around the early teens into 1920’s. I’ll find the names of people quoted in the articles I have and see if I can trace anyone from those names (obits usually have info about surviving relatives). Sometimes people get lucky and the relatives have letters or old photos etc, but I’m not expecting that kind of luck! Still, I’ll do the research and try to find people.
I’ve got the names of the current owners of each of the buildings, but not sure that the owners live in the buildings. One building is owned by an organic farm so I know I can reach someone there. If I can see the interiors of the buildings and have a good luck at exteriors, I think we’ll know that they’re Van Bergen buildings, but it won’t provide primary source documentation. It’s not unusual to find drawings or blueprints in attics, basements and walls. If we can speak to the owners and ask if they’ve found anything it could help. It appears that each of the buildings have been owned by the current owners for many years. Some look to have been inherited from family members…..so it does increase the chance of a document, letter or anecdote, but it’s really a crap shoot!
I’ll give you more specifics on our travel plans. I don’t want to ask you to go to Hereford unless you’re going there for another reason. I can call the organic farmer, but even if you knocked on doors of the other properties, I’m not sure you’d find anyone home.
Will keep you posted! Thanks for all your help!
I can give you the addresses…… Hereford Inn is owned by Sandra Reeve (according to tax records)
The old school is 67300 Circle Dr. The school building and Inn are very similar in style, materials, colors, etc. They’ll be easy to identify. There’s a storage building at the organic farm that is one story with a low pitched roof, a long rectangular building. I’ll send photos that I’ve found. I’m guessing that this could be the 4th building. The third photo is either the school or the Inn. I can’t tell from this photo. The first photo below is my friend’s house….built in 1919 (I think) and is here in Chicago—in Evanston. You can see the similarity between this house—the James Irving House—and the Hereford Inn.
The list of owners is in my office, but I can send later. All the buildings are visible from one another. I’ve seen them on the GIS map on the Weld County site.
If you need Lisa’s contact info to help her in her search, here you go –
MS Global Educational Consultants
660 De Tamble AVE.
Highland Park IL 60035
eMail - Lisa@GloEduCon.com -