The Milner/Schwarz Farmhouse Story

The Milners

Sr. and Ann Milner emigrated from Yorkshire, England, to Canada in 1830.  Joseph was a successful contractor and banker, and the family enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle. The couple had six children: Joseph Jr., William, James, Sarah, Samuel, and Benjamin.  The family moved from Canada to Chicago about 1850, and again to Rockford, Illinois, to escape a cholera outbreak.  Joseph operated a large brick yard. However, bankruptcy was unavoidable by the 1860s, brought on by over commitments on building contracts, inclement weather, and the financial impacts of the Civil War.  The gold rush in Colorado Territory beckoned. In 1864 the destitute family came West and settled in Central city where the men all worked in gold mines owned by big companies. A few months later they purchased a stage station on the St. Vrain River near Burlington, today’s Longmont.

In 1866 after the entire family had recovered from an epidemic of Rocky Mountain fever, daughter Sarah moved to Old St. Louis (Winona), where it was expected a new town in Northern Colorado would have its beginning, to take the first teaching position offered by the new Big Thompson Public School District No. 2.  She boarded with the pioneer family of William Osborn.

Tour of Milner/Schwarz house with narration

Joseph Milner Sr. sold the St. Vrain stage station and moved north to the Big Thompson Valley.  He purchased 80 acres west of Osborn’s farm, half of a homestead claimed originally by Daniel Griffin, John Haynes, and George Woodman.  These men sold the land to John Bartholf in 1865.  Bartholf sold 80 acres to Catherine Douty in 1868 and the other 80 acres to Joseph Milner Sr., in 1869.

Joseph and his sons, all skilled masons, constructed a sturdy stone house with locally quarried sandstone, that partially stands today.  Soon after her new home was completed, Ann Milner passed away.  Samuel Milner was hired to put up many buildings in Loveland during his life.  Sarah married Edward Smith the same year; Edward was also a teacher and a veteran of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre in southeastern Colorado Territory.   It was said that he never quite recovered from his reluctant service in that bloody tragedy.  He took his family to live near LaJunta.

Joseph Sr. continued to live in the stone house, cared for by several of his children.  He divided his land into two 40-acre parcels, giving the easternmost one and the stone house to James and Benjamin, and the westernmost parcel to Emily, wife of Joseph Jr.   

 

Joseph Sr. died in 1873, the year the brick house was built by his sons for Joseph Jr. and Emily’s family.  They built the house solidly of three courses of brick, keeping it whitewashed or later painted white its entire life.  In 1872 Joseph Sr. deeded the westernmost parcel of his 80 acres to his daughter-in-law Emily.  Emily sold her southernmost 20 acres in 1878, retaining the house and 20 acres around it.   

 

Joseph Jr. and Emily had five children: Hattie, James, William, Emily Louise (Lulu), and Joseph Milner III.  By 1880 Emily was a widow.  She and brother-in-law James sold both properties to Mary Leedham in 1880.  Emily invested in her brother’s Montana cattle ranch, but lost all due to a blizzard that plagued the entire Great Plains in 1882.  She remarried in 1887 to Richard Spencer.

 

After Sarah’s husband Edward died, she returned to Loveland where she operated a boarding house for a few years.  She eventually moved with her sons to a Buckhorn Valley ranch near where her brother Benjamin was ranching.  She also resumed teaching school.  The Milners were prominent citizens of the Big Thompson Valley area, contributing much to the growth and permanency of Loveland, and remembered by Milner Pass and Milner Mountain.

The Schwarzes

 

Mary Leedham owned the 60-acre Milner parcel until 1893, when she sold it to John Lapp.  The property changed hands numerous times until the Schwarz family bought it in 1906.  The Schwarz family was part of the large group of immigrants known as Germans from Russia, who came by the hundreds to work the sugar beet fields, Colorado’s booming new industry.   The family lived in the brick house the Milners had built for over forty years, growing sugar beets for the Great Western Sugar Co. and producing dairy products and meat.  The railroad bought

beef and other products from the Schwarzes, as did town folk.

The Schwarz Farm was sold to Dr. Robert and Dora Newell in 1946.  Widowed Dora lived there until her death in 1962.  Her children sold most of the property to Larimer County in 1970 to expand the fairgrounds.  The brick house was still in use as a caretaker’s home until 2002 when the county fairgrounds was relocated to The Ranch on I-25.  The entire old fairgrounds property was purchased by the City of Loveland and developed into a popular new city park in 2002.

View to Gardens

View to Gardens

Kitchen Table

Kitchen Table

Parents Room Dresser Top

Parents Room Dresser Top

Boys Room

Boys Room

Parents Closet

Parents Closet

Kitchen Table Items

Kitchen Table Items

Girls Room bed frame

Girls Room bed frame

Original Tin Patched Floor

Original Tin Patched Floor

Hoosier Cabinet

Hoosier Cabinet

Iron Skillets

Iron Skillets

Girls Room Dresser

Girls Room Dresser

GIrls Room Bed

GIrls Room Bed

Stairs to 2nd Floor

Stairs to 2nd Floor

Living Room Sofa

Living Room Sofa

Living Room Window

Living Room Window

Boys Room Beds

Boys Room Beds

Parents Room Quilt

Parents Room Quilt

Parents Room Chair

Parents Room Chair

Main Home Entryway

Main Home Entryway

Kitchen Basin and Water Pump

Kitchen Basin and Water Pump

Water Pump

Water Pump

Living Room Medallion

Living Room Medallion

Girls Room

Girls Room

Kitchen

Kitchen

Parents Room Feather Matress

Parents Room Feather Matress

Hall to Boys Room

Hall to Boys Room

Parlor

Parlor

New Gardens Area

New Gardens Area

Valentines Day

Valentines Day

Spreading Mulch

Spreading Mulch

Community Gardens

Community Gardens

Putting Up a Fence

Putting Up a Fence

Milner/Schwarz House

Milner/Schwarz House

MS House

MS House

Gardens-5-after-640x288

Gardens-5-after-640x288

Installing the Gate

Installing the Gate

Hover your mouse over this main image to see descriptions of each image

Arial view of Milner/Schwartz house during 2013 flood

Public sentiment persuaded the City to refrain from demolishing the Milner-Schwarz house, since it is now the oldest remaining brick house standing in Larimer County.  In 2009 the City was awarded a $139,350 grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund with a match of $46,450 ($36,450 from the City plus $10,000 from the Loveland Historical Society) to stabilize the foundation and restore the exterior of the house.  The Loveland Historical Society, through many donations and generous support from the community such as the Boy Scouts, has restored the interior to the turn-of-the-nineteenth century era.

 

The old farmhouse is now a historic house museum, open certain hours during the summer months and is available to rent for special occasions.  Check the MSH tab on this website for hours.  The Historical Society also operates popular community gardens at the site. The grounds around the house have become the showplace of Loveland.

 

Miraculously the house was spared by the ravages of the flood of 2013, and apparently by floods of the past.  Speculation attributes this to the fact that the Milners had lived through several floods on the Big Thompson River and knew the slight rise on which they built the brick house would protect it from all but the worse of future floods.

 

The five-hundred-year flood that occurred over three days in September, 2013, caused tragic havoc all along the Front Range of the Rockies, and demolished Old Fairgrounds Park.  But it miraculously spared the Milner-Schwarz House.  Its grounds were surrounded but not inundated by raging water carrying along huge boulders, debris, and tons of silt, as the normally tame Big Thompson River widened to nearly a mile across, raging through the park with unbelievable destruction.  After the 2013 Flood, FEMA even changed official flood parameters in the area because of the resiliency of the Milner-Schwarz House.  If the Milners, professional masons that they were, purposefully built the old farmhouse on the small natural rise with flooding in mind, it was old fashioned ingenuity and farmer’s insight that saved their legacy for the future and for our enjoyment.

Submitted by Sharon Danhauer