Project Update: Homestead Meadows

Hidden Homestead Meadows

Laycook Homestead

Historic places and the people who cherish them are all around us. Sometimes they are in plain sight, and other times one must travel long, bumpy rounds to find them! In early October 2020, Colorado Preservation, Inc. was introduced to the unique and out-of-the-way conglomeration of historic homesteading sites located between Lyons and Estes Park in Larimer County, called Homestead Meadows National Historic District.

Owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service, a partner with Colorado Preservation, Inc. on the Briggsdale Work Center project, Homestead Meadows consists of eight historic homesteads first settled in the late 1880s, connected via low, original wagon roads. Today exhibit original homesteading wooden cabins, barns, outbuildings, and hidden artifacts, providing information and evidence of early pioneer life in this mountainous landscape. Most visitors to Homestead Meadows hike, bike, or come by horseback via a network of easy to moderate trails to this little-known area of the National Forest System in north-central Colorado.

Barn at Irvin Homestead
Lumber house at Irvin Homestead
Log cabin at Irvin Homestead

The rich and unique history of homesteading in this area inspires preservation from the Forest Service and local community members. Last summer, HistoriCorps assisted in reroofing an annex to the main house at the Laycook Homestead. Local volunteers have also since worked hard this past summer to completely reroof and stabilize the main house and other site features to hopefully preserve through another winter. In addition to their efforts and preservation skills, these volunteers and the Forest Service seek ideas and other partnership opportunities on how to best preserve the plethora of nationally significant historic resources in Homestead Meadows.

Main House and Laycook Homestead. Roof rehabilitated in summer 2020 by local volunteers.

Colorado Preservation, Inc. is excited to have had the opportunity to travel the long, bumpy roads to see Homestead Meadows in person (imagine being an original homesteader in the 1880s!) and to begin brainstorming ways to assist the Forest Service and local community members on historic preservation of Homestead Meadows into the future. For more information or ideas on how to help, contact Jane Daniels, director of preservation services, jdaniels@coloradopreservation.org.

Larry Fullenkamp (U.S. Forest Service) and Drew Webb (local volunteer) in front of Brown Homestead cabin.
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Preservation for a Changing Colorado

The 2017 update, Preservation for a Changing Colorado, resulted from a partnership between Colorado Preservation and History Colorado and Colorado Preservation, Inc. Prepared by Clarion Associates, the new report and accompanying website document the economic benefits of rehabilitation projects, analyzes property values and neighborhood stability in local historic districts, and summarizes the increasing impact of heritage tourism, private preservation development and the success of Colorado’s Main Street program. In a key finding, researchers found that for every $1 million spent on historic preservation in Colorado leads to $1.03 million in additional spending, 14 new jobs, and $636,700 in increased household incomes across the state! The 2017 report also considers the important role preservation plays in helping Coloradans provide new spaces for creative communities and co-working, create and sustain meaningful places, respond to the state’s changing demographics, and address climate concerns. Click Here to see the full report, "Preservation for a Changing Colorado".