Platted in 1902, the Gustav and Annie Swanson Farm stands at 1932 North Highway 287 in Berthoud. The farm is located along US Highway 287 roughly one-and-a-half miles north of downtown Berthoud at the intersection of CR-10E. The Swanson Farm is an example of the Craftsman Bungalow architectural style and reflects many aspects of early agricultural development in Colorado. Today, the Swanson Farm remains a private residence.
Gustav Swanson, a Swedish immigrant, spent a decade working in the mining operations in the Cripple Creek area before leaving in 1902 to settle near Berthoud. Like many Northern Colorado towns, Berthoud was known as a producer of grain, alfalfa, sugar beets, cattle, and sheep during the 1800s and 1900s. One reason for the town’s agricultural success is the availability of irrigation water from the Big and Little Thompson Rivers and a series of reservoirs constructed near Berthoud. Large fields of sugar beets and alfalfa also boosted Berthoud’s capability to support the cattle and sheep industries, thanks to the surplus of beet-tops and beet pulp, which along with alfalfa make excellent fatteners for livestock.
Swanson originally rented acreage in Berthoud and started a family before purchasing his own land in 1915. In 1917 the Swansons built a large, wood-frame barn and several other outbuildings before constructing their state-of-the-art Craftsman Bungalow in 1918. The Swanson home served as a center for family celebrations, dinners, and events among the close-knit Swedish immigrant community for years.
Description and History
The farm was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 with seven contributing buildings and two contributing structures standing within its boundaries. A one-and-a-half story masonry Craftsman Bungalow stands on the site’s western end, facing Highway 287. A large fenced-in yard and garden surround the house and garage. The central area of the lot features a large dairy, a pumphouse, a converted outhouse (now a shed), a converted chicken coop (now a blacksmith), and a loafing shed. An irrigation pond and several concrete water diversion structures stand east of the barn. Other than the construction of a new home just south of the lot’s boundaries, the Swanson Farm still retains much of its historic setting.
The 1918 Swanson home stands atop a concrete foundation, with gable end walls that are half-timbered with painted stucco. The house’s intersecting gables are finished in the Craftsman style, featuring bracketed eaves, exposed and shaped rafter ends, fascia boards, and original asphalt shingles. The home’s western elevation features a full-width open porch with six concrete steps. The porch’s rail is capped with sandstone and features large brick piers also capped with sandstone.
The house’s interior retains its historic room layout and most of its original Craftsman finishes. Its stairway retains the home’s original treads and risers, balustrade, and handrails. Other prominent interior features include the home’s original self-regulating thermostat and its whole-house vacuum ducting, a cutting-edge technology at the time of its construction. An original brick trash incinerator stands just east of the house. Almost no exterior alterations have been undertaken since 1918, and the building retains a high degree of historic integrity. The only interior room that has been renovated was the kitchen, as evidenced by its updated cabinetry.
The Gustav and Annie Swanson Farm is a representative example of a Northern Colorado plains farm, featuring stock raising and dairy farming practices common during the late 1800s through the early 1900s. Irrigation access provided by the nearby Handy Ditch (originally established in 1878), allowed for the Swanson farm to successfully raise livestock and run a dairy operation. The 1918 house and garage are also excellent examples of the Craftsman-style Bungalows that enjoyed widespread popularity throughout Colorado and the United States between 1900 and 1920. The house and garage are both associated with the work of famed Loveland-based architects William Warren Greene and John Frank Greene as the only examples of their work in a rural setting. The 1917 barn, though a different architectural style from the distinctive Craftsman home and garage, is an excellent representation of the balloon framing style that saw extensive use across the United States during the World War I era.
The Swanson Farm is still in use as a family residence today. In 2006 the Swanson Farm received a State Historical Fund grant totaling $4,400 to conduct an historic structure assessment.