By R. Gary Raham
Jason Novak and Lindsay Rairdon purchased a piece of Loveland history in 2018 when they acquired an American foursquare home constructed in 1904. They wanted a good investment and saw potential in this 8-bedroom brick home that already housed several long-term tenants and had been designated as a local landmark by the City of Loveland in 2010 for its age and architecture. The couple remodeled some vacant rooms and created a vacation rental called The Oasis on Eisenhower, but they wanted to feature the building’s unique history—a history that involved well-known local settlers like George Rist (1841-1895). Rairdon ferreted out many of the historical details related below.
Rist’s work in Northern Colorado helped attach his name to a local canyon and irrigation ditch. In 1874 he owned 200 acres of property on which the Oasis would later be built. He granted right of way to the Denver Pacific Railway for eternal access to the property. In 1881, the City of Loveland incorporated. In 1882, Rist granted right of way to the Loveland and Greeley Irrigating Canal.
Not long after, a pair of local schoolteachers, John and Mary Warren, purchased the land. In 1904, The National Benevolent Association formed with the purpose of building an orphanage near Loveland. The Warrens, childless themselves, donated the land to the NBA. Construction of the Loveland Christian Orphanage began in December 1904. The Fort Collins Weekly Courier reported that year that the building “is styled the McMillan cottage in honor of the late Mary D. McMillan, wife of the first pastor of the Loveland Christian Church.”
Up to 13 children lived in the home for a short time, attending school and learning the basics of agriculture. In 1907, they renamed the orphanage the Colorado Christian Home, but shortly thereafter moved to Denver and became the Tennyson Center for Children, still in operation today (www.tennysoncenter.org).
The church sold the property to W. S. Warner in 1915 and it served as a single-family residence for many years. Warner operated a cherry orchard on the property and developed his own variety of cherry. Warner was active in the community, serving on various boards. His son fought in World War I. The house remained in the Nugent family until the 1980s with Nugents contributing to the local community. E. J. Nugent, for example, worked for the Great Western Sugar Company and then owned and operated the E. J. Nugent & Sons Loveland Canning cherry processing plant in 1949. The Nugents added an addition in the 1960s and sold off acreage to various developers over the years.
The home served as an apartment building/rooming house for many years under several owners, eventually coming to the attention of Novak and Rairdon. They have begun remodeling while introducing this unique property to numerous Loveland visitors in order to keep its history alive and vibrant. This foursquare example of Loveland history (set back from the road) resides at 2112 West Eisenhower on the way to Estes Park and other Rocky Mountain adventures.