Meeker Home Museum - 1324 9TH AV

 Print Listing Historical Name - Meeker Home
Style - Late Victorian/Italianate - Vernacular
Built Year - 1870
State ID - 5WL566

Description - The Meeker Home is the vernacular Italianate, or “Territorial Adobe,” residence of the City’s founder, Nathan Cook Meeker. The original portion of the structure is two stories, with a one-storey kitchen addition. It is an adobe structure with a wood shingled hipped roof. Roof features include a wood balustrade and a brick chimney. The main facade is broken into three bays and has a central entrance. Windows are partially symmetrical vertically elongated two-over-two double-hung windows with non-operational exterior shutters. European building styles and techniques were extended to the size of the bricks, which were smaller than the traditional bricks found in other adobe structures throughout the southwestern United States.

Historical Background - The Meeker Home is a National Register Historic Site (NR5WL556, 02/26/70) with a wide range of historical significance. In 1869, Nathan Cook Meeker, the agricultural editor of the New York Tribune, organized in New York a joint-stock company called the Union Colony for the purpose of establishing an agricultural community in the western United States. Those selected as participants in the venture pais a $155 membership fee to Horace Greeley, the treasurer of the company. These monies were by the Union Colony to purchase land between the confluence of the Cache la Poudre and South Platte rivers in Colorado Territory. In April, 1870, the town of Greeley was established. Founded on the principals of temperance, religion, agriculture, and irrigation, Greeley quickly became one of the most successful colony towns in the West. Meeker built his adobe house far from the center of town in order to promote an optimistic attitude concerning growth. He lived in his house with his wife Arvilla and daughters Rozene, Josephine, and Mary. His son Ralph visited frequently from New York, where he worked as a reporter. During the period of 1870-1878, Meeker founded and edited the Greeley Tribune, and initiated village improvement campaigns. However, Meeker fell increasingly into debt, especially after the death of his benefactor, Horace Greeley. In 1878, Meeker was appointed Indian Agent for the White River Utes in northwestern Colorado. This job offered an escape from debt and another opportunity to exercise his social engineering skills that made Greeley a success. Accompanying him were his wife Arvilla and daughter Josephine. Meeker was unable to bridge the cultural gap between white people and the Utes. His insistence that the White River tribe sacrifice its nomadic way of life for agricultural-based living led to increasingly violent altercations, ending tragically in massacre on September 29, 1879. All but one of the agency men were killed, including Meeker. The women were taken into captivity. Upon their release twenty-three days later, his wife and daughter Josephine returned to the adobe home in Greeley. After Meeker’s death, the women struggled to survive economically by taking in boarders and growing their own fruits and vegetables. Rozene and Josephine went on lecture tours, relating the events of the White River tragedy (although Rozene had not joined her parents and Josephine at the Agency). Josephine understood the underlying causes of the conflict and was sympathetic to the plight of the Indians. Josephine and her sister Mary died in 1882 and 1883, respectively. Rozene lived in the adobe home until 1910, when she sold it for mortgage payments to Stanley Davis. In constant mourning, Arvilla lived there until 1904. She died in 1905. Mr. Davis sold the home to N. D. Bartholomew. The City of Greeley later purchased the property and opened the home as the city’s first museum in 1929.