By Bob McDonnell
Berthoud resident Heidi Short is a fan of history. Along with her husband, Bryan, she is helping preserve some of Berthoud’s history. Short’s interest in things from the past shows in her training and experience − she is a historian, anthropologist and genealogist.
In 1993 the Shorts moved into a very small — 854-square-foot — bungalow-style home located at 733 Fifth St. At the time, Short had no idea about the home’s history. She has since learned a lot and now has what many know as the Culp house on Berthoud’s Historic Landmark Registry.
Short says the house showed indications it had been around a long time, including a root cellar. Digging in the yard revealed old bottles, a 1940 dime and a bullet from 1896.
With Short’s interest in history, two years ago she joined the Berthoud Historic Preservation Advisory Committee (BHPAC) and decided to put her house on the registry. To qualify for this status a building must be more than 50 years old or of extraordinary historical importance, have sufficient integrity, and either be associated with events or people significant to local, state or national history. A structure can be on the list if it represents the distinctive characteristics of an architectural style or period too. The Culp house qualifies on many of these points.
One of the home’s unique features, according to Short, is its bungalow styling.
“These were not common in this area,” Short said. Basically, a bungalow is a very open floor plan with the bedroom being a separate room.
Short has a two-page document chronicling the home’s past. Highlights of the document show Peter Turner first sold the land in 1890. Later, in 1898, the home’s owner was W. T. Bransom. He was the Larimer County Sheriff and president of the Loveland Herald newspaper.
Later, John Kernan Mullen owned the house. This was in 1904, but it is believed that Mullen did not live in the house. He was the founder of the Colorado Mining and Elevator Company and lived in Denver. When he died in 1929 his worth was an estimated $4 million dollars. Speculation is that he purchased the home for a local employee.
Town of Berthoud’s community development director and BHPAC staff representative, Curt Freese, says there is a long list of structures that are historic in Berthoud. They include businesses and homes on Mountain and Massachusetts avenues. In addition, the local designation, the Berthoud museum/Bimson blacksmith shop, is a nationally-designated landmark. State landmark designations are held by the United Brethren Church at 500 Fourth St. and the Gustave and Annie Swanson Farm at 1932 North Highway 287.
Both Freese and Short encourage others who have historic homes to get the local designation. Short says the BHPAC has a “wish list” of structures. Letters have been sent to property owners asking them to consider going on the list.
One of the nice features about the BHPAC historic designation is it does not have to be permanent. People can opt out at any time. Many surrounding communities state that once a structure is historic, it has to keep that label. Freese added there may be some tax incentives for the owners of the properties to fix up and bring the exterior of the building back to what it used to look like.
“A great way to understand our heritage,” is how Short feels about preserving structures in Berthoud. It helps to understand the design of homes at the time too, she said.
“Maybe I should step up,” is how Short characterized her actions of putting the Culp house on the historic list and joining the BHPAC. She hopes others do the same.