Have you driven north on 35th Avenue and noticed a house up on stilts opposite Greeley West High School?
So have we! As someone that has driven past it almost daily for over a year, I decided to see what the history of this house was. The house obviously has great bones and could be renewed to all its glory with a little TLC and some funding.
At the turn of the last century, the first female architect in Greeley, Bessie Smith, designed this house that previously sat at 1115 11th Street in Greeley. While records aren’t exact, the Greeley Sun newspaper reported that the house was built in 1907. It was deemed “The Carrell House” due to it’s first occupant, Lynn J. Carrel. Carrel worked as a bookkeeper at Greeley National Bank before he passed in 1909.
From there, the house was home for several families, some of which had worked for the town in various capacities. In the late seventies, the house was sold to Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. The house then housed several insurance offices, then was later sold to Gene Overturf. From there the history is a little vague. The home became abandoned and sat empty for quite some time.
In 2015, the house was facing the possible destruction that the rest of the condemned block was facing.
That’s where Family of Christ Presbyterian Church came in. They rescued this iconic, historical home! Pastor Nathan Soule-Hill said in a Greeley Tribune article, “It was just a chance meeting,” when he was approached by members of the nonprofit, Historic Greeley, Inc. at a church function.
The Carrel House has now been deemed The Bessie Smith House.
Once completed, the Bessie Smith House will be a place that people can come together. Some of the proposed ideas consist of garden-to-table dinners, a community meeting space, food pantry expansion and so much more. Pastor Nathan Soule-Hill says, “The church set out to use the space as a community center that will serve our neighbors, and we are now reaching out to area schools, non-profit organizations, and community leaders to identify the needs that can be met through the house and its programming. The possibilities are endless, but we don’t simply want to duplicate services that are already available in the Greeley area. Instead, we are trying to hone in on specific needs that this community center can meet, and meet very well.”
Currently, the foundation is being worked on so the house can be moved to its new permanent home. “All that’s left is to pour the basement floor and finish some of the flat work. In August or September (an exact date is not yet set), the moving company will hoist the house with a crane onto the new foundation. The church plans to host a viewing party that day to celebrate and document this feat of engineering, historical preservation, and community spirit. Afterwards, Family of Christ can begin the historical preservation grant process, which will provide about half of the funds needed for the rehabilitation of the home,” says Soule-Hill.
Interested in donating to this awesome house renovation? You can do that by clicking here. If you scroll to the bottom, there’s an awesome video that shows the house being moved through town!
What other houses have you seen that you want to know more about?