Photo courtesy of Charles Keim
Backstory and Context
The Cunningham/Weese Home is a two-story building that was constructed out of local sandstone in the 1890s. The majority of the structure is sandstone. It has a sharply gabled roof with two windows near the roofline. The original inhabitants of the home most likely moved to the area in order to take part in the town’s growing economy.
During the late nineteenth century, people moved to the St. Vrain Valley to homestead, work in the quarry, or improve their respiratory health. As the population grew, opportunities expanded. Farmers were able to sell their produce in town and men were able to find work in the quarry. While the American West is often romanticized through cinema and novels, in reality, early life on the frontier was difficult. There is some evidence that the first people in the St. Vrain Valley were the Ute and other Native American tribes. They would have traveled through the area, possibly staying for short periods of time.1 Unfortunately, archaeological evidence of these tribes has not been studied by a qualified archaeologist, or it has been removed from its original location. The first homesteaders would have arrived in the 1860s, with the quarries drawing more settlers in the 1880s and 1890s. Many men moved to the Lyons townsite to work in the quarry. It was dangerous work that often led to an early death.2
The Cunningham/Weese Home was most likely built by an individual who moved west to treat a respiratory illness or to homestead. It would have taken several weeks to reach the area by stagecoach. During the late nineteenth century, the townsite was still being developed and mostly consisted of quarry workers.
The Cunningham/Weese Home is currently a private residence.
2Pace, Alfred Lyons Sandstone Quarry 2006. 18