The setting is idyllic and peaceful: Green meadows stretching into the distance, and a clear view of the Mummy Range with fresh snow on the peaks. The plum trees are in blossom and the mouth of the North Poudre Canyon forms a dramatic red backdrop.
This is the site that pioneers William and Eliza Parker chose for their family home in the late 1800s. Amazingly, their cabin is still standing, just off Cherokee Park Road (County Road 80C). This year marks the 125th birthday of one of the original Livermore homesteads, and the new owners are making sure that the historic building will last for many more years.
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Jim and Nancy Carpenter purchased the cabin and surrounding acreage in 2013 from the estate of Leona Parker, granddaughter of William and Eliza. Soon after, they hired contractor Morgan Cate to stabilize the cabin and protect it from the weather, so that future generations can have a glimpse of Livermore’s pioneer past.
“Both of us have a love of history,” Nancy Carpenter explained. “We’re excited to have it stay as part of the landscape for as long as possible.”
Some of the Parker cousins came to Livermore this spring to see the cabin and property. “They were so happy to see the place appreciated and preserved,” Carpenter said.
The couple plans to keep the land in agriculture, raising hay and running cattle beginning next year. “We definitely want to be part of the ranching community,” she said. She has joined the Livermore Woman’s Club and both Carpenters are members of the Nature Conservancy.
The Carpenters, founders of Wild Birds Unlimited, reside most of the year in Indiana but have a vacation home near the Parker homestead. They hope to spend more time there in coming years.
So far, Cate and his crew have rebuilt two chimneys and installed a new cedar-shake roof, treated for fire resistance. They have also put new fascia under the eaves and have begun restoring the windows. They are keeping the original tongue-and-groove siding wherever possible. When the project is complete, the five-room cabin will have secure doors and shuttered windows for security.
Despite having to clear out decades worth of varmint waste and lots of mold, the project has been a labor of love for the carpentry crew. Not only do they get to work in a beautiful setting, but they have the satisfaction of preserving some of Livermore’s history.
Perhaps one reason the cabin is still standing is that William Parker did a very good job building the home. “He understood the fundamentals of good construction,” Cate said. “Considering it was built with hand tools, it’s remarkably good. Everything is plumb, level and mathematically correct.”
Some of the old building techniques prove the ingenuity of the pioneers. The Parkers flattened old paint cans for ridge flashing and, with no cement available, mixed their own lime mortar to protect the stone foundation.
“I find it amazing how much energy it took to farm, grow their own food, raise children and also build their own houses and have barn-raisings for themselves and their neighbors,” Cate said.
According to “Among These Hills,” the history book written by the Livermore Woman’s Club, William Alvin Parker and Eliza Ann Pritchard Parker moved from West Virginia to Eaton about 1887, and their youngest son, John C., was born there. Two years later, the family moved to Livermore and built the homestead cabin at the mouth of the North Poudre Canyon. The original two-room structure was built with logs, but the later addition featured 2×4 construction with lathe and plaster walls.
Irrigation was becoming very important in the late 1800s, and North Poudre Irrigation Company built flumes and ditches in the vicinity of the Parker home. Some signs still remain of the old irrigation system. William Parker as well as sons John and Edward worked for NPIC, with John serving as ditch rider for part of his tenure.
After William died in 1909, John continued to live at the Livermore ranch, raising cattle and hay. He married Rose Cornelison and they had one daughter, Leona, born in 1920. In his later years, John moved to town and was cared for by his daughter until he died in the early 1970s. Leona died in 2013 at age 93, and the Livermore land was put up for sale as part of her estate.
“We feel so lucky,” Carpenter said, that she and her husband were able to purchase the property and preserve it for future generations.