Historic Timnath house sings a song about preservation and change

A well-known old song’s exhortation begins, “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.” In many ways, the historic Timnath home located at 4301 Main Street offers that same sage advice.

Its current owners are Marjolein and Willem Van de Graaf, originally from the Netherlands. They and 21-year-old daughter Madelein, a senior at Colorado State University, and son Maas, 12, a 7th grader, treasure their beautiful home, which they’ve decorated in a lovely minimalist style. Antiques and modern pieces peacefully co-exist, hence a nod to the old tune’s balanced wisdom. The nearly 110-year-old structure survived, even as time and cultural changes morph new into old, old into revival, and nearby farmland into subdivisions.

The Van de Graafs purchased the house in 2001 from Galen Beauman, who had owned it since the mid-1990s when she reportedly acquired it from her late sister’s estate.

Now easily recognized for the stylistic picket fence Marjolein designed, Ernest W. Thayer built the then state-of-the-art house in 1905 next door to the home of his father, Henry H. Thayer. The younger Thayer married Roxie Love and the childless couple resided in their high-end modern home until 1922, when they moved to Pasadena, Calif.

Roxie had long-suffered from tuberculosis. In fact, one historical photo includes a therapeutic TB tent erected beside the Timnath house. Despite her compromised health, Roxie was an active member of the Columbine Club and ultimately recuperated to outlive Henry.

Property records are incomplete, but one subsequent owner of the Main Street home was Thayer’s childhood friend and business associate W.B. “Webb” Springer. David and Elizabeth Miller purchased the house and lived there from the early 1940s until the 1970s.

Marjolein has found relics of bygone eras inside and out on her property, including a Strang Feed and Grain sack containing 1933 letters and a Fort Collins milk bill bearing the name of a Strang manager, Carl Neergard, who might have rented or owned the house for three or more years. Other items she found in the crawlspace, heating ducts, walls and yard include antique hatpins, a lady’s choker, a wire mesh fly swatter, a hoop skirt complete with a Victorian bustle, ladies shoes, marbles, wooden checkers and children’s card-stock cutouts.

The Van de Graafs choose to be ecologically responsible and architecturally accurate. Yet they needed to somewhat enlarge their home that amazingly retained all its original woodwork, fireplace and other features. Some rooms had been poorly repurposed/remodeled down through the decades. Marjolein recalled one visually shocking color scheme: a 1950s ‘cool, daddy-o, cool!’ attempt that bathed the bathroom, kitchen and sun room in mint green and Pepto-pink paint, tiles, etc.

“It was hideous,” Marjolein succinctly graded that mid-century style blunder –and this assessment from a woman admittedly partial to mid-century furnishings!

Woodward Inc. software engineer Willem did all the electrical wiring and woodworking; he also incorporated high-tech features. He and Marjolein added square footage and removed/relocated several walls. Part of the 1905 front porch, which at some later point had been enclosed, became a front parlor. A study was added on its north side. Period flooring, 10 doors and some windows were acquired from a Fort Collins church that was modernizing. Willem patterned transoms, installed above identical five-panel doors (some from the church), to match the existing 1905 ones.

He repurposed the original front porch doors to serve as sliding doors on a large china cabinet that Marjolein designed. The kitchen addition, which sports 11-foot-high ceilings to mirror those in the rest of the house, ties into the new back porch. To open, it’s window screens actually slide down to disappear into the wall! Everywhere features blend vintage 1905 with modern with touches of the Netherlands. Living space seems even larger due to the stylish sparse décor and color choices. But total square footage is now 1,648 feet, compared to 1360 when the Van de Graafs purchased the home.

“We enjoy living in a smaller, historical house. We try to live on a smaller footprint and not over-consume,” Marjolein said. “We garden and keep chickens for eggs. We decorate in a northern European style– clean lines, some modern, some antique furniture, an eclectic mix.”

And, with a nod to the well-appointed kitchen, “We really like to cook and entertain!”

As Timnath continues expanding and drawing families from many areas, life choices and age groups, perhaps the charming, historically important but Internet-wired home at 4301 Main will serve as a visual reminder of the old song, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”

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