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Designated Landmarks

Morse Coffin House
990 State Highway 119

Landmark Designation: 1999

National Register: 1984

Construction Date: 1880's

Architectural Style: Second Empire

The Coffin family of Sandstone Ranch brought to Colorado a proud heritage tracing back to England, 1066 and William the Conqueror. Through Tristram Coffyn, one branch of the family, came to Massachusetts in 1642. j The lure of the west brought his eighth generation descendant, Morse H. Coffin to Colorado with two friends to work among the support services to the burgeoning mining industry. They arrived in Boulder in 1859, having traveled through Fort Laramie and learned of Horace Greeley's visit two days earlier hand his report on the virtues of Colorado. With the decline in mineral activity in 1860 Morse Coffin turned his interests to agriculture and came to the area of Burlington in the spring of 1860. Both Morse H. and his brother Rueben F. took up land and became two of the most prominent agriculturists of Weld County. Rueben, with his planting of 2,000 walnut trees, established "Walnut Grove' which prospered and became a favorite picnic and recreation spot for family and neighbors, as well as being one of the first homestead claims taken with plans for irrigation; it was sold in 1920. Morse chose a spot of almost 360 acres approximately three miles east of Burlington. This ranch remains today as tangible and intact evidence of an important Weld County Pioneer family.

Here, Morse established "the Sandstone Ranch" with its necessary farm buildings and its stone quarry lying north of the St. Vrain River, sheltered slightly from wild Colorado winds by a slight rise in terrain. The land supported the family and has continued in service to today. In 1889 the site was crossed by the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, which shortly thereafter provided a spur to the quarry just east of the family residence. The quarry supplied stone to Denver, other parts of the state and as far as Chicago.

Through the years the Coffin name has been a part of notices of social and civic affairs in the region. Brother George was at one time treasurer of Weld County and Longmont City Councilman and Mayor. Morse was co-founder of the first public school district in Colorado (Idaho Creek District). Among his public writings is a series of installment accounts, running from December 14, 1878 through March 15, 1879, on the famous Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. These writings and other journal entries were later turned into a book called "The Battle at Sand Creek". Morse was a member of Captain Nichols Company D., the purpose of which was to keep open the highways to the East, to protect ranchers from Indian attack, etc. The contribution of Morse H. Coffin to the agriculture economy of the region is attested to by the continued productivity of Sandstone Ranch. In recent years the land has been worked by local tenants responsible to members of the family who now live out-of-state. The Ranch was sold in 1981 to the Bigelows who completed a renovation of the residence as a home for their family of five. The Bigelows sold the land and the house to the City of Longmont to be used as a Community Park.

HPC 1999-5