Longmont Museum Features “Niwot On The Rails” April 2011
BY KAITIE HUDSON
For the very first time, Niwot was presented with the opportunity to display the depth and color of its history on the walls of a true museum. The Longmont Museum and Cultural Center at 400 Quail Road in Longmont opened the “Niwot on the Rails” exhibit March 25 to an overflow crowd of Niwotians, past and present. The exhibit will be on display through May 22.
The display includes historical photographs dating back to the late 1800s, many of which were unknown even to longtime Niwot residents. Current photographs of historic buildings and streetscapes by Niwot photographer Curtis Jones, were displayed next to photos of the same scenes from long ago.
Various artifacts which have been donated to the Niwot Historical Society, ranging from Walt Atkinson’s anvil to a Niwot Military Band uniform, aid in conveying the story of Niwot.
For a town devoid of sidewalks, street lights, curbs and gutters until 1993, it is fascinating to look back over the years and realize how far Niwot has come both as a town and as a community. Although the railroad sparked the creation of Niwot, it is the town’s inhabitants who have kept it alive. From Nimrod Henry’s beet crew to Sherry and Marc Faulkner, it has always been the people that have made Niwot a comfortable and exciting place to live.
The Faulkners, who owned and operated Rev Taylor’s Country Restaurant for 15 years, were excited to attend the exhibit’s opening. When asked what they miss most about running the restaurant, the Faulkners agree that it was the people. They miss “the association with customers and employees, as well as the opportunity to work with young people who were working for the first time, and to see that they got their start at our restaurant and are still working in the food industry today.”
In such a small town, owning and operating a restaurant proved an essential component in getting to know the people of Niwot, which was evident to Sherry Faulkner when considering how over Rev Taylor’s 15-year lifespan, five of their former employees met their spouses through the restaurant. The Faulkners took over ownership of Rev Taylor’s in 1985 with the goal of bringing Niwot back to life. And the lively, small town establishment helped to do just that.
Many of the historic photos on display at the exhibit once hung on the walls of Rev Taylor’s. Although it was often a challenging task with four children to raise, the Faulkners managed to create a place that clings to the memories of all who entered Rev Taylor’s and were met with the familiar sights and sounds of much of what has begun to define Niwot over the years.
Although Rev Taylor’s closed in 2000, the building itself remains protected as part of the Niwot Historic District, which includes all buildings in the first block of Second Avenue.
Many of Niwot’s historical remnants are preserved by the Niwot Historical Society, and the exhibit highlights the rich history of the area. Laura Skaggs, president of the organization, is proud to be a part of the exhibit and was absolutely thrilled by the opening night turnout. As she browsed the exhibit, the woman, who many know as the “Duck Lady,” was at last able to experience the result of her efforts, as well as those of many other individuals and organizations.
The exhibit was funded largely by the Left Hand Valley Courier’s Nostalgia Day Duck Race, which was greatly enhanced by Skaggs’ enthusiasm as the primary duck seller. The Niwot Local Improvement District also made a substantial contribution to the cost of presenting the exhibit.
Skaggs’ pride is shared by many, including Anne Dyni, local historian and past president of the Niwot Historical Society. Her column “Yesterday’s News,” has commanded a position in the Courier for the last 14 years, and will soon be published as a collection. But her love for history extends beyond the Courier.
This inspiring woman, whom Skaggs credits as providing the building blocks for the exhibit, began her accessioning of Niwot artifacts, if only in a figurative sense, long before her role with the historical society began. Dyni has been collecting oral history since she purchased the old Atkinson blacksmith shop on Second Avenue, and claims that “you can’t speak with your neighbors without becoming interested in their history.”
Dyni loved the presentation by the museum. “We’re thrilled to have our artifacts so beautifully displayed. The old blacksmith doors haven’t been seen since the shop was remodeled in 1985.” Dyni continues to play a critical role as a board member of the historical society, and it is her hope that after May 22, many pieces of the exhibit will find more permanent homes somewhere in Niwot.
To find out more about the exhibit go to http://www.ci.longmont.co.us/museum/index.htm.