The Massachusetts Avenue building is one of the oldest in the city
In a series of local history articles that appeared in the newspaper Burgdorf in 1952, local historian SE Newell wrote: “The building where the fire engines are housed in an old building. It was occupied as a grocery store by Mr. Van Deludia. In a later column, Newell corrected his claim by announcing, “In last week’s article, the man who ran a store where fire engines are stored was Van Delinder.” The man’s last name was actually “Vandelinder” and the address for the “old building” was both 330 and 332 Massachusetts Avenue.
The old building was one of the first commercial buildings to be built in the nascent market town of Burgdorf. Erected before 1890, the brick structure is located on the west flank of the driveway on the north side of the 300 block of Massachusetts Avenue. Its modern moss stone facade belies the antiquity of the brick structure which has had many occupants over its century-plus lifespan. When Newell wrote his articles in 1952, the building had recently been purchased by the city of Burgdorf to store the fire department’s two fire engines.
In the early 1890s, the building at 330 Massachusetts Avenue housed a “cash store” operated by a gentleman identified as “L. Van Derlinder.” Cash shops, usually unsuccessful businesses in farming communities such as Burgdorf, only accepted cash and did not extend credit to customers. Local farmers depended on merchants to transport them on credit. The man nicknamed “Cashstore” VanDerlinder left for another business in 1895. Before leaving the city, he was also administrator of the city of Burgdorf and police judge or magistrate.
When Burgdorf City School became overcrowded in 1894, the local school board rented the building and made it a classroom for first, second, and third graders. One of the students later recalled, “Miss Susie Turner was the teacher. Playground equipment consisted of old filing cabinets and mowers in the back of the school building owned by the Davis-Hartford Mercantile Company. (A “grader” was a horse-drawn farm implement that bundled grain or corn into shock absorbers.)
The students eventually returned to a new school building that had been constructed in the center of what is now Fickel Park. The building was later rented by carpenter John Lutener who used it as his shop. During Lutener’s tenure in the building, he painted wagons for his brother Sam (a blacksmith who built wagons), built a house for Andy Berglin at 806 Fifth Street, and did carpentry repairs at country schools. Old Burgdorf and Lakeview.
In 1902, Lutener was replaced by RC Hardesty, editor and publisher of the Burgdorf Bulletin newspaper. Hardesty purchased the building and printed the local tabloid there until February 1912. The building was then leased to Miss M. B. Pearce of Denver who used it as a millinery store.
By June 1913 Miss Pearce had closed her shop and GG Osborne rented the building for use as a pool and billiard room. Osborne had left in November 1914 when Mr. and Mrs. Wiswall of Longmont rented the building for “Wiswall’s Picture House” or photography studio. An ancillary business known as Roberts & Wiswall also sold a line of spring and summer women’s dresses and suits from the building.
After the Wiswalls closed their business in the fall of 1915, the use of the building is unknown until December 1916, when Hinkle & Company moved its business from the building across the street. When Hinkle & Company was sold in March 1920, Frank Garvin operated a grocery store and haberdashery in the building and remained there until 1926.
When Garvin moved his store to a new location on Fifth Street (the current Berthoud Pizza Company building) in 1926, Billy Lynch and William Lyon moved their harness shop and shoe repair business to the old building. Shoemaker Jake Zoller eventually bought Lyon’s stake in the business and worked there with Lynch for several years. When Lynch retired in 1937, Zoller moved his business to another store across town.
Burgdorf’s telephone directory indicates that the Farm Service Garage was located in the building that had the address of 332 Massachusetts Avenue in 1947.
In 1950, the building obtained perhaps its most long-term occupant when the city of Burgdorf purchased the structure. In November 1950, the local newspaper reported: “The Burgdorf Fire Protection District purchased the building at 332 Massachusetts, next to City Hall, now occupied by the Farm Service Garage. The 20×30 foot building will be renovated and used for more efficient storage and maintenance of the two fire engines now owned by the district. The purchase was made from Frank May, Valentine, Nebraska, for $1,750.
When the local fire department obtained the building, two garage doors replaced the large bay windows at the front of the building. Prior to 1950, Burgdorf’s fire truck had been stored in a makeshift garage next to the main entrance to the town hall building at 328 Massachusetts Avenue.
The old building at 332 Massachusetts Avenue continued to house Burgdorf’s fire trucks until the Burgdorf Fire Protection District facility was built on East Mountain Avenue in the early 1970s.
Over the years, the building at 332 Massachusetts Avenue has gone by many names, including the Bransom Building, the Old Bulletin Building, the Fitzwater Building, and the GM Davis Building. One of those construction namesakes, Bob Bransom, will be the subject of next week’s tale.