Oral History: The Lincoln Center

I’m so glad the Lincoln Center is open again—and better than ever—for this holiday season. I learned some things I didn’t know about its history by reading this excerpt from “Talking About Fort Collins: Selections from Oral Histories,” a joint project of The Friends of the Library and the Local History Department of the Fort Collins Public Library (1992). (Transcripts of the oral histories are also available at Fort Collins History Connection.) The picture at left, also from FCHC, is an aerial view of the old Lincoln Jr. High School, circa 1974.

“There was a lot of conversation and agitation from the early sixties for the cultural improvement of Fort Collins. The city had no money and no plans for cultural centers, but they asked the citizens to get together and try to express their opinions, and organize, which they did. This resulted in the passage of a one-cent sales tax in 1973, and the establishment of a seven-year Capital Improvement Program, which included the development of Lincoln Center

“It was a coincidence that at that time the old Lincoln Junior High School on Meldrum and Magnolia was to be demolished and the new Lincoln Junior High was to be built. It is interesting that Poudre R-1 gave the city the old school building, the location, for one dollar, and the city designated that property for the new Lincoln Center, which was a great boost.

“They incorporated part of the Junior High building into the Lincoln Center. The Ludlow Room was the library of the school, and the gymnasium was used for conference rooms and banquet facilities. The old school auditorium was converted into the mini-theater, and part of the space in the mini-theater that is used for dressing rooms for the artists was the girls and boys shower rooms. The present auditorium was constructed new on the site of the original school. Incidentally, the Ludlow Room was named for Olive Ludlow, a wonderful citizen.

“The whole community backed what we were doing, people like Dr. Karl Carson, former mayor, Dr. Tom Bennett, also a former mayor, Lilla Morgan, the wife of William Morgan, president of the university, and others. Mrs. Morgan was a real sparkplug, and heavily involved.

“But a few people in town said it would be a white elephant, and it was called the impossible dream, which did come true. The sales tax went on in 1973, so they were able to start building the next year, and Lincoln Center was completed in 1978. From the night of the dedication, people were thrilled. You didn’t hear much about a white elephant any more. We had an anniversary, I think in 1988, in which a white elephant was hung from the ceiling and cracked open and shattered.”
--Frank Johnson, 1992

Mystery Photo:
Last week's photo was taken at the Lincoln Center's Gallery of Trees.

In lieu of a mystery photo today, here's a link to the Denver Post 2011 Year in Photos. Enjoy!


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