Fort Logan Field Officer’s Quarters Museum
Fort Logan Field Officer’s Quarters: Self-Guided Tour
Built in 1889, this single-family residence is a three-story, nine-bedroom, three-bathroom house designed for occupancy by an Army field officer (rank of major or above). This house, as were most of the other buildings around the 32-acre parade ground, was designed in a modified Queen Anne style by Army architect Frank J. Grodavent. His plans also were used at West Point in 1897, where the duplicate building still serves as faculty housing. Fort Logan’s visual cohesiveness is largely due to the unusual circumstance of a single architect (Grodavent) being hired by the Army to design and build the group of structures. Frank Grodavent, one of the first licensed architects in Colorado and certainly one of the first AIA Fellows in the state, retired in 1926 from a 39-year career as an Army construction superintendent.
The architect, builders and artisans who worked on Fort Logan likely were on site for several years in the early 1890s. By the 1930s, the fort’s buildings were more than 50 years old and needed attention. Troop labor was used to “upgrade” them. Pale maple flooring was laid over the dark pine floors of this house’s main level. Door frames and molding were replaced with simple “two by fours”; kitchens and bathrooms were updated. Since 1995, the Friends of Historic Fort Logan has been reversing these so-called improvements, gradually returning the building to its 1890s appearance. The Colorado Historical Fund and many others generously have supported these efforts with more than $350,000 to date.
The Reception Hall’s hand-carved, quarter-sawn fireplace surround and stair railings were restored to their original golden oak beauty with donations from friends and family of Loren Blaney, MD, a founder of the Friends of Historic Fort Logan. Fireplace tiles in this room and the Parlor are original to the house. Radiators throughout the house also are original—note the cupids and elaborate decorations on each. Electricity on most Army posts was not introduced until shortly after 1900, so the lighting was originally oil lamps, similar in design to those on the first floor. The building’s window pane arrangement is unusual—six panes above and two below. Note that much of the window glass is original, as its “wavy” appearance indicates.
The front Parlor is decorated in period-style wallpaper chosen for this building from designs that would have been for sale in Denver in 1889. Colonel Henry Clay Merriam, whose portrait hangs above the fireplace, was the commander of Fort Logan between 1889 and 1897, following his arrival with the 7th Infantry troops from Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Colonel. Merriam was a skilled woodworker; as evidenced by the inlaid wood table crafted by him and currently on display in this room, along with a collection of his military uniforms and equipment.
The Dining Room is separated from the Parlor by eight-foot-high pocket doors with original hardware. The house was initially heated by a coal-burning furnace, but later changed to steam heat. The radiator on the back wall also served as a warming oven. A butler hired by the family would have served meals here, keeping food warm in the oven between courses. Notice a small window in the door to the butler’s pantry, where he could keep an eye on the progress of dinner.
The Butler’s Pantry contains samples of china used by the family, and storage for all manner of dining equipment. A unique window in the interior wall lends natural light to a basement stairway. The sliding “pass-through” door allows exchange of items between the pantry and a storage room behind it.
The Kitchen sink is original to the house. The period stove was purchased and restored by the Friends of Historic Fort Logan. Displays here include typical household items of the 1890s and examples of pieces used by troops in the field. A pantry storage room was convenient for the grocery and ice deliveries made to the back door.
Along the Hallway, notice blueprints of the building that were found in the National Archives. These help to guide restoration activities. The “back” stairs, probably used by the servants, are narrow and steep. The front stairs were probably used by the family, and were wide and more gradual, perhaps to accommodate ladies’ wide skirts of the era.
The Smoking Room or Sitting Room might have served as a place for men to gather. Men and women would have separated after a dinner, men to smoke and women to have tea in the Parlor. As a reminder that the first cavalry troops arrived at Fort Logan in 1894, the horse saddle displayed to the left of the fireplace is known as a McClellan saddle, designed by the famous Civil War general. It was one of the most common Army saddles of this period. On the right is a remount saddle, usually used for mules. Note the transition from mules and horses to trucks in the photos from the early 20th century. A special camera took the long photographs of troops.
The main-floor Bathroom shows the earliest type of flooring in the building—local pine. The room features an original sink and a reproduction overhead tank water closet.
The second-floor front Bedroom is an unusual shape—a reminder of the Queen Anne design. Its pine floors, trim and door were refinished in 2010 with assistance from an estate bequest. The room is used for exhibits such as the story of Fort Logan’s balloon Santiago and an extensive military badge and insignia collection.
The second-floor Bathroom sink and footed tub are original to the house; the oak dresser is typical of the late 19th century.
The rear Children’s Room displays toys, furniture and clothing that a military family might have used. The room was funded by a generous grant from the Edmund and Eleanor Quick Foundation.
Other second-floor rooms that await restoration include a conference room, the office of the Riverside Soccer Association, and the office and archives of the Friends of Historic Fort Logan. The third floor and the basement are not open to visitors at this time.
Exterior: On the Front Porch, recent paint helps to preserve the old wood of the railings and posts. Many porch bricks are sadly weathered, though. The front porch design is not original, having been “updated” during the changes of the 1930s. Fort Logan’s original wood porches were all redesigned except for the porch on the Commanding Officer’s Quarters, the building immediately to the west. The duplex just to the east was occupied by Captain and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1924-1925 when he was stationed at Fort Logan on recruiting duty. It is now the headquarters of the University of Colorado’s ARTS programs.
The Fort Logan Field Officer’s Quarters museum, located at 3742 W. Princeton Circle, Denver, 80236, on the grounds of the CMHI at Fort Logan, is open free of charge to the public on the 3rd Saturday of the month, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Group tours are available on open house days as well as on other days by arrangement.
To arrange a tour, please call 303-789-3568 and leave a message.