New Wine in Old Bottles – Shared Office Space in Old Town
Built in 1881, Jefferson’s Study is part of the oldest buildings in Fort Collins. In those days, Jefferson Street was the main street in town lined on both sides with commercial buildings and a three story hotel. The hotel and all other buildings on the north side of Jefferson were purchased and torn down or relocated in 1907 by the Union Pacific to make way for their new rail line and the passenger station which is now the Rodizio Grill. The Union Restaurant was recently added with a park between the two restaurants and directly across Jefferson Street from Jefferson’s Study.
The recently refurbished and beautifully landscaped Old Firehouse Alley is our “main street” today providing direct access to all of the shops, restaurants, and activities of Old Town.
The ground floor has always been a commercial space, and in the 50’s and 60’s it was probably used for automotive repair when a garage door (not the fancy glass door you see today) was installed. As recently as 1983, the second floor which is now Jefferson’s Study was divided into little rooms for a boarding house. Life was tougher then and each space had a coal burning stove that was used for heat and cooking (there are burn marks that remain on the floor where hot coals escaped). Interior rooms had the large interior windows that borrowed light from what was two small skylights. Ventilation was also through these windows and the transoms over the doors. The stifling heat of summer must have been dreadful especially with a black roof and virtually no insulation, but the respite of winter was only better if the coal burner kept going! In repurposing the second floor to co-working, the windows were relocated to the front offices as the rooming house walls were torn down and the two skylights were connected to form one 44 foot long skylight which daylights the entire floor!
So, although the space has been updated in every way to have air conditioning, central heat and very high speed internet, these improvements have been worked in around the historic structure of the building. And it has been done in a way that is green…long before green was cool. How green is Jefferson’s Study? Let me count the ways:
- Reuse of 130 year old building materials including doors, windows, trim, handrails, wood lath, and flooring is a good start!
- Our roof is made of super-insulating urethane foam with a white silicone topping to reflect heat. Installed in 1988, this has been a trouble free roof which sealed the building and cut energy costs. It has been re-coated and refurbished in 2012.
- And our 44 foot long skylight is made of a frame of wood recycled from the building and glass panels that had slight flaws and were sold as seconds! In the summer we shade it with a semi-transparent awning to filter the light.
- Excess heat is siphoned off in the summer with wind turbines mounted on the old brick flues that used to vent the coal stoves.
- We used to cool the office with evaporative cooling, which is very green, but not very dependable. Our new air conditioning has a very high Seer rating of 13. What is more important is the natural ventilation that is incorporated with the heating and cooling system. Summer or winter – and especially the perfect days of spring and fall – outside air is mixed with the cooling and heating so the space will always be fresh and not stagnant so you will be more productive!
- We keep the heating/cooling fan going 24/7 to de-stratify the air so the temperature in the loft is the same as the temperature on the main floor.
- We are close to everything important and worthwhile in Old Town and the Downtown, so you can either walk or ride a bike.
- And last, but certainly not least, we recycle and we turn the lights off when not in use!
It is a cool space. It is so cool, that a young friend asked to be allowed to have his girlfriend come up for a dinner catered by his roommate. The idea was to propose to her. She said, “Yes!” and they are happily married today with a family. So when you think about where you want to spend 90% of the workday, ask yourself if it passes the “proposal test!”
Jefferson’s Study Fort Collins Shared Office Space is a special building and a wonderful example of how to use a building designed in an earlier time for use in our modern society. What was once old is now making an important contribution to our community and maintaining our historical architecture too.