Emma Malaby Grocery Gives a Glimpse of Fort Collins’ Historical Past
Although Fort Collins seems to be in constant state of growth, with dozens of new apartment buildings and businesses popping up left and right, there was once a time in history when things in this city were much more simple. Despite how much Fort Collins has expanded over the years, for the most part, it still has a small town, charming feel to it, and plenty of quaint reminders of what once was. Around Old Town, history buffs may already be familiar with the faded, painted "ghost signs" from the 1800-1900s that remain on some of the building walls, or interactive, historical landmarks such as the Avery House, but for an even deeper glimpse into what life was like close to 100 years ago, the surrounding neighborhoods are filled with vintage architecture, and significant places that once played a role in helping to shape the city into what it is today. So much character can be found throughout the streets of this area, and it's pretty cool to see fragments of history being preserved in this way.
With its windows now boarded up and the inside vacant, Emma Malaby Grocery, one of the town's longest-standing buildings, is still as inviting as it was back in its heyday, but instead of drawing in hungry shoppers, the adorable white structure now peaks the interest of history lovers and curious Coloradans wanting to know more about the former life of their city. Back in a time when FoCo residents weren't used to see chain stores at every major intersection, smaller corner markets and grocery stores, like this one, could be found in neighborhoods all across town. Frank Collamer was the original owner of what eventually came to be Emma Malaby Grocery. Moving to Fort Collins in 1870, he ran several businesses, and when the time came to sell his home located near Ted's Place, Collamer then bought a chunk of lots in the 300 block of North Meldrum Street. It was here that he first began running a grocery store out of the front of his house – just a few doors down from where the storefront sits today. In the following years, Collamer moved his business to a different location on North College Avenue, and then wound up back on Meldrum, at the current 313 address, where he kept horses, and sold hay and tackle at until 1907, when it officially became a grocery store again. Flash forward to about ten years later, when Collamer was no longer able to run this store, thus turning operations over to his daughter, Emma Collamer Malaby. Emma took control of things until 1943, which makes it even more impressive that the building's appearance has remained in such great condition since then.
A majority of the city's other former markets have now been repainted, re-purposed, and transformed into new dwellings and businesses, with no sign that they were once a bustling place to pick up groceries. Emma Malaby Grocery, however, is a present reminder of Fort Collins' intriguing, historical past.