We completed an historic structure assessment for the Schofield Farm & Open Space in 2019 and are in the process of preparing the Construction Documents for the first phase of the project. Many of our projects progress in this manner, where we start with assessment and prioritization, and then move into the first phase of work. We wanted to share the history we uncovered at Schofield as we’ve worked on this multi-year project.
The Schofield Farm is owned by the Town of Erie and comprises of 75 acres total; 35 acres of Erie Lake and 40 acres of the Schofield Farm. This remaining 40 acres was once a larger property of approximately 320 acres of land purchased originally by Hiram Prince from the Union Pacific Railroad between the years of 1889-1891.
Hiram Prince was born in Mobile, Alabama on May 6, 1824. Records indicate that he was a sailor in his early life. In the early 1850s he relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. In 1856 he married Helan Mary Linzy. Records are not perfectly clear, but it appears that they had five (5) children. In 1863 Hiram and Mary moved west to Denver via wagon train. Hiram opened a blacksmith shop and it was noted in his obituary that the first omnibus ever used in Denver was built there. He served as the State water commissioner under Governor Maxwell for five years and from 1885 to 1889 he served as a member of the State Legislature. It should be noted that the State Capitol Building was yet to be constructed during his service, and it was said that Hiram was instrumental in the creation of Colorado’s state government. He was also on the board of education and was given the name “The Father of the Denver Schools”.
According to an article in the Lafayette Leader in 1870 he sold his business in Denver and the family moved to Boulder County. In 1889 Hiram Prince purchased 160 acres of land from the Union Pacific Railroad and on July 11, 1891 Hiram purchased another 160 acres.
On February 21,1892 Hiram and Helan’s daughter, Mollie “Mary” M. Prince marries Alphonso Schofield and in 1893 Hiram deeds 96 acres to Mary and Alphonso. The main house was constructed sometime between 1893 and 1896. Mary and Alphonso had four children: Mary Emma, Archibald J., Walter H. and George.
In 1898 Helan Mary Prince died; she was 60 years old. In 1905 the large barn was constructed. Records indicate that it was built using the Wizard Block Maker from Sears and Roebuck. The style of the barn is called a bank-in barn with the hay stored on the top floor, the horses on the floor below and the cows on the bottom. In that same year Alphonso was elected as the Treasurer of the School Board. In 1914 the concrete stave silo was constructed on the site.
In 1918 George Schofield marries A. Maud Walton and the couple moves onto the Schofield Farm. This same year Alphonso purchases a cheese factory in Lafayette. The Lafayette Leader article stated “George Schofield, son of the new proprietor, will act as manager and the business will be conducted under the name of The Lafayette Cheese Factory. Mr. Schofield states that it is his intention to also open a creamery and will be prepared to produce butter for the market”. On June 29, Mary (Mollie M.) Schofield dies and Alphonso and their four children inherited the property.
There is some confusion between sources about whether George and Maud already lived on the Farm, or whether they moved in after Mary’s death. The article in the Lafayette Leader from 1918 announcing their marriage references that following their honeymoon the couple “will go to housekeeping on a farm of the groom’s father, four miles northwest of Lafayette”. However the narrative from the Boulder County Historic Landmark Nomination Form states that following Mary’s death George asked her to move onto the farm and that “Maude, graciously, gave up her house for a new cook stove and ice box, and took care of the cooking, washing, raising her daughter, helping her husband for the next 45 years”. According to the nomination a porch was added on the south-west corner of the home and that the south-east porch entrance was modified while Maude and George lived in the house.
In 1919 the Lafayette Farmers Elevator Company and the Lafayette branch of the Colorado Farmers Union was incorporated in February and Alphonso Schofield became the president and director of both. The Lafayette Leader reported that “the board of directors of the elevator company were instructed to at once attend to the matter of securing a site for the erection of the elevator, warehouses and other buildings which will be needed for the carrying on of the business. They were also empowered to secure plans for these buildings and let the contracts for their erection. It is the intention to push the completion of their plant without delay and to be ready to handle the members grain the coming season…”.
George and Maude officially incorporate the Schofield Farm on December 7, 1923. They worked very hard and almost lost the farm during the depression, but it is thought that their diversification into egg, chicken and dairy farming allowed them to save the property and continue operations. George and Maude’s only daughter Lois Marie married Joseph “Joe” Aloysius Distel on September 22, 1939. The farm continued operating under George and Maude until George’s death on March 24, 1965. Since Maude was then 65 and unable to work the farm on her own, she decided to sell.
In 1969 Joe and Lois Distel purchased the property back. At the time he was operating the Lafayette Grain Elevator. In 1981 Lois dies and Joe moves onto the farm, selling their house in town. This same year records indicate that the quonset hut machine shed is constructed. On August 2, 1982 Joe remarries Eva and the two continue to own and operate the farm together until Joe’s death in 2007. (Aside – Eva’s first husband was Gabor Cseh and the couple was involved in the development of Eldora Ski Area. Originally called “Lake Eldora” the ski area opened in 1962).
In 1984 the sun room was added along the south and east side of the house, enclosing the open porches. A painted metal sign still hangs on the south exterior wall of the sun room with “Welcome Joe-Eva-Distel”. It appears Eva may be the artist responsible for the sign as well as the motifs that still remain on the kitchen cabinets. One cabinet has “Aug 2 1982” and the letters “J” and “E” with two hearts and gold rings below.
Following Joe’s death the property was transferred to Eva, Patricia Holt and Joseph Distel. In 1999 the property was nominated and August 13, 1999 the property was designated as a Boulder County Historic Landmark. In 2014 the property was deeded to the Town of Erie.
The Schofield Farm is planned to be rehabilitated and the first phase will focus on the Farm House. Beyond an Open Space site, some of the buildings will be adapted for event space.