Name: Historic Hover Farm
Address: 1303 Hover Rd.
Landmark Designation: 1994 (east portion) ; 1996 (west portion)
National Register: 1999
Construction Date: 1893
Architectural Style: Farmstead
The Hover Farm is historically important as a reminder of Longmont's rapidly disappearing agricultural heritage. Its very location, now surrounded by residential development, is a powerful visual symbol of how much the community changed in the second half of the 20th Century.
The farm's historic importance is enhanced because of its association with Charles Lewis Hover, community leader and agricultural pacesetter. The land was owned by a succession of early St. Vrain Valley settlers, including George Beckwith, whose family was involved in many ventures in the settlement of Burlington. Many of these settlers owned the land for only a year or two, and there is no record of any house being built on the property before the present one. From 1875 until 1902, the land was part of a 1500-acre parcel listed as the Marshall Farm and the owner is recorded as Mary Marshall. The farm house was constructed in 1893 during the Marshall ownership. The farm was sold briefly to Joseph H. Williamson, who in turn sold it to Charles L. Hover in 1902, together with 15 shares of the Longmont Supply Ditch and all other water rights belonging to the land.
Charles Lewis Hover studied pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin and then joined his brother in the wholesale drug business in Denver, where he met and married Katherine Avery. In 1902, tired of the stresses of business and shaken by an explosion at the Hover Drug Company, Charles purchased a 160-acre parcel of land on a dusty country lane west of Longmont and retired to the quiet life a gentleman farmer.
Charles and Katherine lived briefly in the original farmhouse, but soon moved to a cottage they built in the orchard to the north. The farm he had purchased was not regarded as particularly productive, and Charles set about immediately to improve it using what he called a "scientific method". Hover's innovations included a specially designed drainage system to improve the alkaline soil and sheep feeding to replenish the nutrients. Hover add the latest in farm machinery, and this period (1902-1912) is presumably when the present farm buildings were constructed.
In 1907, Charles and Katherine Hover adopted nine-year-old Beatrice, who lived until her death in 1993 on what was then her father's farm and would later become the Hover Village Retirement Community. In 1913-1914, Hover tuned his attention to the construction of the family's new brick Tudor residence which the family called Hoverhome In ensuing years, Hover left much of the daily operation of the farm to his tenant, but remained interested in new farming techniques. At one point, he planted a large grove of catalpa trees to illustrate to area farmers what good fence posts the straight, sturdy trees would make. Hover was active in local and state farm organizations.
Charles Hover is a prime example of the partnership between agriculture and industry that was the cornerstone of Longmont's economy. In 1920, he and four local investors purchased the Empson Canning Factory from J.H. Empson, and Hover served as president and general manager of the cannery until it merged with the Kuner Pickle Company in 1927.
In 1994, this parcel was purchased by the St. Vrain Historical Society and is used as an event center. It hosts a variety of functions, from wedding ceremonies to corporate events.