This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 30, 2011 - a fair flower comes to Castle Rock

This is the story of two beginnings.

The first concerns the house at 404 Perry Street in Castle Rock. It was built in 1888, apparently by stone mason H. B. Remington. The next owner, the first one to live in it, was Washington Irving Whittier, a well known teacher, editor, postmaster, realtor, legislator, and circuit-riding minister. Whittier was a cousin of American poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

In 1890 he sold the house to James Woods, another school teacher, and by all accounts an excellent debater. (There were debating and literary societies in those days). His wife and two sisters opened a dress making business in the house.

From 1895 to 1902, it was owned by William Thayer, another debater, an elected Castle Rock Trustee, and a train dispatcher. Then the house went to a saloon-keeper, carpenter, concrete, plastering and masonry business operator named George Burk.

People had a surprising mix of skills back then. They had to, I suppose.

The house continued to change hands, but over the years, was home to several other businesses, among them Elegant Edibles, Casual Catering, and a bike shop.

The second beginning concerns the new business opening there. The name of the shop is Finn*Lafleur. It will be an art and fashion gallery. The fashion is hip, European, and will feature hats, belts, shoes, and soon, furniture.

The business gets its name from Carlos Finn, 36, and his 29-year old sister Desiree and her husband William Lafleur. "Finn" is Irish for fair, and "Lafleur" is French for flower. So the shop's name means "Fair Flower."

Carlos (Carlos Michael Finn) tends bar at Next Door, and has long been associated with an art gallery cooperative in Denver. He's also a painter, creating what he calls "primitive, naive, child-influenced" pieces. His art will be on display.

His sister has mostly worked in the oil and gas industry, but she and Carlos used to work at the Pinos restaurant together (now the Union). William, known as Billy, is an assistant supervisor at the Red Hawk Golf Course.

I do a lot of walking around Castle Rock, and happened to poke my head into the house one early June evening to see what all the bustle was. Carlos, Desiree and Billy were transforming the house.

Although they are renters, they have put a lot of sweat equity into the place. Gone was the old carpeting, revealing a lovely old hardwood floor. They restored it. With pride, they showed me around the freshly painted little house. They have constructed benches, installed track lighting, made a dressing room, and covered up old pipes. It looks great.

The shop had a soft launch on June 18, during the downtown's car show. They're still tweaking their hours, but will probably be open something like 10-7 most days. They'll want to be open on weekend,s so may close on Mondays.

The history of the house (and its additions, not treated here) comes from the Douglas County History Research Center, located within the Philip S. Miller Library. We have lots of fascinating research about the people and buildings in the area.

The history of the Finns and Lafleurs comes from just talking to these industrious and ambitious Douglas County natives (Carlos and Desiree grew up around Santa Fe and Titan Road, then in town). They're all smart, personable, and interesting folks.

I like the way things come back around. Multi-skilled and ambitious people take a gamble, and add another layer of memories to a building. What was a dress shop is now kind of a dress shop again. And history is still being made.

LaRue's Views are his own.

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