Old Town Alleyways

Artist Image of Firehouse Alley

Alleys are like the ugly stepsister, all cities have them, and most choose to ignore them, particularly in downtown areas. They are usually nasty, with garbage dumpsters that stink, utility boxes and power lines, and just plain dark and dingy. Not a place you would choose to hang out in, that is for sure. Fortunately, Fort Collins has managed to avoid the worst of this in the downtown alleys, but they still havn’t been very hospitable.

That is now changing with the charge of the Downtown Development Authority and the City of Fort Collins, primarily the DDA, they are transforming the alleys into pedestrian walkways that will eventually connect downtown with CSU. It started back in 2006 when the DDA did two pilot project alley ways, Trimble Court and Tenney Court. Trimble Court, long a pedestrian shortcut between Old Town Plaza and College Avenue is now a pleasant walkway with lighting, and overflowing with flower boxes in the summer. Tenney Court became a pedestrian shortcut to Mountain Avenue when the Civic Center Parking Garage was constructed. This was a true alley with odiferous trash dumpsters, drainage issues that became dangerously icy in the winter, and steep side slopes. The revamping addressed all this, consolidating trash dumpster, fixing the storm drainage, flattening the alley, adding lights, and planter boxes again. After it was complete, the Children’s Mercantile and the Opera Galleria both added new store fronts and entrances onto the new pedestrian ways. I previously blogged on these alleys at The Built Environment

Artist Image of Montezuma Fuller Alley from Oak Street

. Check it out for the photos.

This past summer the DDA took on two additional alleyways, Montezuma Fuller Court between Mountain and Oak, and Firehouse Alley. Both were retrofitted with upgraded drainage, pavers, lighting, and planter boxes. The hope is that businesses will eventually add new entrances off of the alleys, restaurants will create outdoor patios, and these become lively places. Indeed, one brewpub has already built a beer garden on Montezuma Fuller Alley. These were just completed, so the full impact of all the planter boxes won’t be seen until next year.

I applaud the DDA for doing this. It helps to alleviate the congestion on College Avenue with the pedestrians, sidewalk patios, etc. Most of the alleys are heavily used by pedestrians anyway to get from the parking lots to the shops, so why not make them pedestrian friendly? When they are complete all the way to CSU, now that will be cool.

Artist Image of Montezuma Fuller Alley from Mountain

Artist Image of Alley Cat Alley from Laurel Street

18 comments to Old Town Alleyways

  • I’m particularly eager to see how firehouse alley turns out. I’ve often run between pine and linden using that alley (I think I’m thinking of the right alley, at least.) and you have to watch for mud or holes in the street. I’m curious what will happen with parking. Will cars be allowed to drive on the brick?

  • Meg,

    That is the right alley. It is complete now, but I have not seen it yet either. I think cars can drive on it. It is funny, that same alley was one of my senior projects, and I totally revamped the interior of that block too.

  • captainbevo

    I believe that back in the sixties Trimble Court was the home of the only bicycle shop in town. A small shop on the North side of the alley. The owner was older and not customer friendly (well at least not to this 8 year old). Does anyone else remember this shop?

  • steve

    I’m going to say that I do remember a bike shop in the Trimble Court alley, but perhaps I’m just a victim of memory influence, not memory certainty. The bike experience I remember more distinctly would be all the Schwinn bikes for sale at Tollivers hardware.

  • captainbevo

    Steve,
    I live next door to john toliver the man is 98 years old. I remember the saddles at Tolivers. When you walked in the door there they were sitting on saw horses to tempting for a kid. The soda machine sat right by the front door-I can still remember the smell of the place. By the way Steve I am a cousin of vance and val-communicate with val frequently now.

  • steve

    Howdy Captain,
    Being a mid-life geezer such as myself, I know you will also remember when Jaxs was truly an army surplus store, Christmas trees were piled high in City Park for a massive bonfire and A&W defined the north/south boundries of a usual College Avenue cruise. I keep in touch with vance, and val is on the Christmas card list. Small world. Back on the bike shop topic: Did the proprietor growl at you when all you wanted was to get a price quote on a new banana seat or a pair of ape hangers?

  • captainbevo

    Oh Jax was great back in the day now it is high end in basically a Quansit hut. We used to stop on the way out to the golf course and buy podo golf balls about 10 cents each-felt like a marshmallow and flew like one to. Help me here where was morries in and out located. I know there was one on south college at one time but I thought there was one on the North side. Cruising college was about the only thing to do until you turned 18 or could get into the shakeys and sneak. I remember the start of the hippie culture which begot mellow yellow and a few others, if you didnt have a pouch and hiking boots you were on the other side. Rambling a bit but it brings up memories of coach kinard and reid pope and my personal favorite lou jorgenson. That should get your heart started,

  • captainbevo

    By the way do you remember a friend of ours with a flag that challenged the day by the name of jeff?

  • steve

    At the risk of becoming the steve and captainbevo blog, I’ll respond. Lou Jorgenson and I locked horns many times. All the fledgling hippies did. One memory of him I smile at; he was also a driving ed instructor and once when we were out driving he hit the passenger side brake pedal installed in the car for the instructors to use…I’m not sure what he thought he saw, but there was nothing to stop for. I could tell he hated having to apologize to me for almost sending me through the windshield and being stupid. How about this one- Emil Olander? I’m not sure what he taught normally, but he also was a drivers ed teacher. I can hear it now and the lesson has stuck with me to this day regarding turn signals. Like the man said “signal your intentions”. I will need another clue to identify ‘jeff’ and ‘morries in-and-out’… not sure where or even if there was one in the Fort.

  • Steve and Captain Bevo,

    Keep it up! These stories are fascinating. Of course, you are talking about times well in advance of when I came to town.

  • captainbevo

    I found a picture of Steve back in the day. Poudre had just won the state football championship against Grand Junction Central. The pic is on a website called fort collins history connection and type in poudre high school band in the search and look at pics that say reception. A very long time ago. Molander was also a basketball coach. Lou was probably trying to toss you thru that windshield. I refer to those days as the cowboy hippie wars, it got a bit testy there for a year or two. I miss the old College Days, it was held in the spring and it was just plain old fun. The town was pretty much just taken over by parties and cops. Bands played around the lagoon and smoke was heavy in the air. My dad loved it and would drive around and look at all the fun everyone was having. Kind of like the tour de fat we enjoy today.

  • Susan

    The alleys are really spiffing up Old Town. Thanks for highlighting them, Terence. How about a story about the old Lincoln Junior High School that’s been exposed by the remodel of Lincoln Center?

  • steve

    I need to take a moment here and syncronize my watch with CaptainBevo….I know that a lot of water has passed under the bridge since High School, and I could have forgotten a thing or two BUT, I don’t think I am in the school band picture mentioned above. I’m from the class of 1971…the last school band experience for me was in junior high with Glen Shull at the helm. I ‘ruined’ a concert once by having the audacity to wear lovebeads. Shocking! The percussion section was stage right and it was always fun to sneak out the side door and hit the vending machines outside of Aggie Liquors during long tacet passages.

  • captainbevo

    Steve,
    My name is Bob Tobin if you dont remember me you remember my brother or my dad. Anyway Vance is my cousin. I know that this isnt facebook but I thought you would appreciate to know who captainbevo is. Poudre class of 72

  • captainbevo

    I saw the firehouse alley on Sunday went to nonesuch theatre on sunday to see a couple of fellows. They really did a great job on the alley almost looks like the entrance to a gated community. Then I saw what was once referred to as the drunk tank, through the original posts. My dad and I took a good look at the building (and he may know as he was employed with the city from 52 to 89 and had his original court in the firehouse) we have come to the conclusion that this was the horse barn originally built for the fire department what happened with the building after the purchase of a motorized fire truck he does not recall but it did not house prisoners waiting for the court to set bail.

  • steve

    Like many of my vintage, I stood before the Judge back in the day. Always tried to beat the speeding tickets. Rarely succeeded….Since I am in the ‘alley’ section of the blog, I will confess here to having eluded the police once by darting into an alley to avoid being ticketed for driving my little Honda motorcycle without a licence. I was only a few months shy of being legal. The photo archive Captainbevo mentioned is a lot of fun to poke around. One of my favorites, for some reason, is one taken outside of The Deerheart Inn (above Horsetooth) after the fire there. Some poor band had to drag all their gear out in a pile. Love the retro drumset. If any one can think of a club on the east side that went up in smoke, we could cover 4 compass points: N- Ladds Covered Wagon, S- The Matterhorn, W- Deerheart Inn and E-?….I suppose the oldtown blaze of around ’64 that took out a few bars might qualify.

  • captainbevo

    I got you covered by a block or so how about the elks club (bar to some degree) blowing up in 1977. My dad was telling me that he was across the street when it blew and the force of the blast lifted him off his feet and threw him up against a wall.

  • Ron Stearly

    I certainly remember the bike shop in the alley, Trimble Court. I bought my Schwin 15 speed there in 1962 and rode it with some of my touring pals up into the Poudre Canyon and Big Thompson Canyon just about every weekend during the summers of ’62 and ’63. I still have that bike although I don’t ride it very often anymore and certainly not across country like we did back in the day.

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