Archive for May 13th, 2010

“Howe” did this get here? Part 2: Finding the trail of the Howe lynching

by Ashley Houston, Collections Assistant

In the first installment of this post, I talked about two mysterious items we found in our collection: a knife and a piece of rope that have been traced to the hanging of James Howe, Fort Collins’ only lynching.

To round out my research on Fort Collins’ only lynching, I went with my coworker Museum Coordinator Leigh Westphal to find the modern-day sites of where the murder happened, where the house is now, and the location of the hanging. As it turns out, the house that the Howes lived in is still standing…though not in its original location. You might recognize the original location, though — it’s on Walnut Street in Old Town where the former Goodwill building is now standing.

The Howes’ house was moved in 1947 to W. Myrtle where it still resembles its original form, except a second door on the front has been filled in and a porch roof has been added.

Original Howe house on Walnut Street

Howe house in its current location on Myrtle Street

Next stop was to find the courthouse. The courthouse that was standing at the time of the lynching has since been torn down and rebuilt, but the modern edition stands in the same place as the original. Howe was hung from a derrick used during the construction of the old courthouse. It is the one you can see to the right if you look close enough in this old picture. The derrick was standing at the south end of the building where the entrance is now located.

Original courthouse under construction

Current courthouse, same orientation

Another view of the south side of the Larimer County courthouse

So while we tracked down some of the mysteries surrounding the knife and rope that the Museum has in its possession, many questions still remain. Nevertheless, it’s always fun to learn something new about Fort Collins history — hopefully you learned something new, too!

May 2010

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