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Pup tents, prayer flags, and the amazing glass dome

In a recent letter to the Lost Fort Collins blog, Karen Schaefer, a reporter in Ohio and a former Colorado resident writes:

One place I recall was an old hotel downtown.  I think it may have been a railroad hotel originally.  There was an amazing glass dome in the lobby and one of those old round, red plush sofas sited squarely underneath it.  When we were there sometime in the late 1960’s, it had just been re-opened and the dome uncovered for the first time in years …. Is it still there?

I LOVE letters from people who used to live around here. They have snapshot memories of Fort Collins–freezing people, places, and events that we locals  overwrite with newer images everyday. Two of these former residents remembered the dome to me recently, though it seems current Fort Collinites hardly know about it.

Originally, the dome was part of the Northern Hotel’s ballroom, just south of the lobby:

Dome at Northern Hotel Ballroom

Dome at Northern Hotel Ballroom

Over the years, as Karen implies, it was hidden, rediscovered, and later renovated. It hovered over restaurants, and more recently, little boutiques. Today, it’s an elaborate skylight for the Mountain Shop. To see, go here (100 block, N. College):


Here’s the dome today, amid prayer flags and pup tents:


And how about a detail view from the new camera?

Dome focus point

Dome focal point

9 comments to Pup tents, prayer flags, and the amazing glass dome

  • KC

    I’m ashamed to say that I, one of those locals you mention, was truly unaware of this! It is beautiful, and I was in there just a few weeks ago and didn’t even notice it.

    I’ll be in there soon to make up for my oversight!

  • catfc

    KC, thanks for admitting that 😉 Actually, it makes me feel good knowing that I’m not just writing about stuff that everybody already knows. I didn’t notice the dome at first either.

  • I didn’t even realize there was a mountain shop, let alone a dome inside. It’s probably one of those shops that I walk by all the time and look in the windows of, but I’ve never actually read the sign overhead. *Doinks self on head*

  • Karen Schaefer

    That’s it! That’s the dome just as I remembered it. Thank you so much for digging around and finding this.

    Karen Schaefer

  • Susan

    I don’t know if you can dig up anything about this memory, even if you’re interested, Cat, as it dates from about 1950, and there’s nothing left from the event on the site. I remember visiting Fort Collins, and being roused very early one morning to go see the circus set up. It had arrived by train, and in my memory, it was where the pickle factory used to be. The factory probably existed in 1950, however, so it must have been somewhere else, but near the tracks. About the only other thing I remember about it was watching the elephants work.

  • catfc

    Hi Susan,

    That must have been so amazing to little kid eyes to see elephants setting up the circus. Norm says they arrived via train on Mason Street and marched down Oak Street to City Park to put on the circus when he was a kid in the 1940s. You might like the “Elephants on Oak Street” photo here

  • I think the dome was found again in the early 1970s. It was still novel enough that when I lived in the Northern around 1977, I went down to have a look at it. The dining room was pretty upscale, and I may have chickened out.

  • Tiffany Graham

    My dad was a superintendent on the latest remodel of the Northern Hotel. He said they really did a through remodel on the job and he brought me home a bit of memorabilia from it.

    The story goes… when him and few others on his crew were down in the basement of the hotel and they opened an old closet door and there were a stack of OLD hand tooled nails, they used in the original construction of the Northern Hotel. These are not little nails like one would assume they reminded me more of rail road spikes they were a good 6 inches long, so naturally they all grabbed one and he managed to grab me one too. I know it’s just a nail but it’s still a fun bit of FoCo history to have.

  • catfc

    Cool about the nails. I used to keep an “office” upstairs at the Northern before the remodel. $60/month, no phone line. In retrospect, I wish I’d looked around closer at things.