Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

McCormick’s store wrapped around bank building at the corner of Third and Mountain

By: Mark French | The Surveyor | July 08, 2021 | Then and Now

One of Berthoud’s first businessmen, William H. McCormick, was a United Brethren preacher before he opened a hardware store. Born in Ohio in 1844, McCormick tended to his father’s tobacco farm while his older brothers fought in the Civil War. McCormick taught school in Ohio and then Colorado before being assigned to the Cache la Poudre, Big Thompson, Little Thompson, and Left Hand valleys as a United Brethren circuit-riding minister.

In 1879 he married Miss Anna Brunner in Denver. He filed a homestead claim 3 miles north of the original Berthoud settlement on the Little Thompson river bottom the following year. It would not be until 1884, the year that Berthoud was moved from the river bottom to its present site on the bluff that Reverend McCormick would begin to reduce his role as an active minister.

Even after leaving his pastoral position McCormick continued to play an important role in Berthoud’s United Brethren church, serving on the board of trustees and filling in for the church’s ministers. McCormick was also frequently called upon to conduct funerals for the early pioneers who had held him in high regard.

In 1884, the year McCormick gave up his ministerial assignment, he was elected to serve as Larimer County’s representative to the Colorado General Assembly. In November of that year the Fort Collins newspaper reported, “W.H. McCormick, member of the legislature elect, is fattening a large number of hogs on alfalfa and soaked wheat with good results. Mr. McCormick will sow the larger part of his four hundred and twenty-acre farm to alfalfa, and convert the whole into a fine stock farm.”

In 1888 McCormick and business partner Ben Forbess of Hygiene opened a small hardware store in the fledgling settlement of Berthoud. The following year they purchased lots at the northwest corner of present-day Third Street and Mountain Avenue and built a large brick store building that wrapped around the bank on the corner and had storefronts on both 3rd Street and Mountain Avenue. After Forbess left the partnership in 1889 McCormick expanded the store’s stock of goods and advertised “McCormick Sells Everything.”

Even though McCormick’s place of business wrapped around a stone building constructed by F.H. Stickney of Longmont in 1886 to serve as a bank, the main entrance to his store was on Mountain Avenue rather than Third Street.

After proving up on his homestead McCormick moved his four-person family that had grown to include children Grace and Edward from his farm to the town of Berthoud. The house that McCormick purchased in 1892 had been built two years earlier by Dr. R.L. Leggitt.

In the late 1890s McCormick prospered as a general store owner and expanded his stock beyond hardware and groceries. He also invested in real estate, purchasing several lots in Berthoud’s downtown business district

In 1905 McCormick established a hardware store in Highlandlake which he operated for a year before moving it to the new town of Mead. In 1906 he also opened another branch of his business in the fledgling community of Johnstown. His son Edward played a key role in the operation of the Berthoud, Mead and Johnstown stores.

After W.H. McCormick died in February 1932 his son Edward headed the family store in a new direction. In March of that year the Berthoud newspaper announced, “This store, the oldest business institution in the town, has for years and years been doing business on a credit basis. The announcement says that March 22—next Tuesday—a cash system will go into effect. And with the cash system comes a drastic cut in prices—prices made to meet the keen competition of today. The store will have further changes to announce soon regarding different departments of its business.”

That’s a tale for another day.







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