The Northern Hotel has been one of the iconic buildings in Fort Collins since its construction in 1873. When it was built though, it looked much different than it does today, originally it was built as the Agricultural Hotel with what I believe to have been three floors. In the 1880′s it was changed to the Commercial Hotel, and then finally to the Northern Hotel around 1905. In 1936, the building was extensively remodeled and given the art deco appearance that is has now. The Northern operated as one of the finest hotels in Fort Collins and catered to people who traveled by train, being only a block from the train station. After World War II, the hotel slowly declined as train traffic declined. A fire in 1975 severely damaged the upper two floors, causing the hotel operations to cease. However, the ground floor remained opened with several viable businesses. A 1975 facelift to the ground floor introduces a continuous row of arches on the College Ave street front, and a blank brick facade to the Walnut Street Facade. During its heydey, the Hotel was visited by such notables such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Wayne, Olivia DeHaveland, and Vincent Price. Being a luxury hotel, the Northern was also adorned with an incredible indoor dome that provided natural light into the dining room. The northern has been home to a variety of restaurants and businesses over the years.
Captain Bevo has other memories “In the early sixties my dad and his coffee group would meet at the Northern daily (except Sundays) periodically, I would go with him. As a kid I always thought the fish pond in the lobby was the coolest thing ever. The pond consisted of rock with a waterfall that dropped about 5 feet or so. It’s odd what stays with you-I can still remember the smell of the area and vision the large gold fish or koi that swam amongst the pocket change that had been tossed in.The coffee shop was a place where anyone and everyone would meet. Bankers, attorneys, judges, politicians, farmers, merchants, travelers, college professors, college students and just about anyone else you can think of. Downtown was the place to be.
During the 70s the Northern housed a pretty cool night club (for its time) disco, rock and patchouli oil replaced the din of clanking dishes.”In the late 1990′s the Northern was closed all together and was totally vacant for a few years. In 1999, it was acquired by Funding Partners for Housing Solutions, who with the help of several grants, creative financing, and Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits the entire building was restored to is Art Deco 1936 appearance. The upper three floors were converted to 47 apartments for low income seniors, with the first floor occupied by businesses such as Starbucks, Spoons, The Mountain Shop and a few others. It is a beautiful building inside and out and once again takes its place as a prominent building in downtown Fort Collins.