Photo Courtesy of Charles Keim
Backstory and Context
Alexander Chisholm traveled to Colorado for the first time in 1876 but did not settle. In 1880, he returned to Colorado and settled down in the Lyons area. Edward S. Lyon had recently purchased property in the area and had discovered limestone and sandstone that could be quarried. Alexander Chisholm found that his skills as a blacksmith were in demand due to the quarries. In 1889, he purchased the land that the Chisholm house now sits on for $125.00.
In 1893, he married Mary Hinkley and they had two sons, James and John. Alexander Chisholm was an active member of the community. He was elected to the first board of trustees of the Old Stone Church on April 25, 1889.1 He and his wife were active members of the church and attended services every Sunday. In 1894, He was the mayor of Lyons, and he served on the school board for a short period.
Chisholm was considered an expert blacksmith in Lyons, he built his home to be used as a residence as well as a blacksmith shop.2 This is evident from the 18-inch exterior walls. They are made up of two stone walls which are separated by an air space. This was a building method used to create insulation for the structure. The house has many other features that are common among the buildings built in Lyons during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The roof is gabled which was a common architectural feature in Colorado. Gabled roofs prevent snow buildup during a heavy snowfall. Roofs that were flat, or had a less of a pitch had difficulty withstanding the weight of snow. The house has a single-window near the roofline, which would have been used for both decoration and to bring light into the upper part of the house. The style of the house is similar to that of an I-House, which were common in rural areas of Colorado between 1875 and 1910. The main features of an I-House are a gabled roof, a rectangular floor plan, and an unadorned exterior.3
2Weaver, Frank, Chisholm Family Settled in the Valley, Lyons Recorder, August 26, 1976. 3
3Field Guide to Colorado’s Historic Architecture and Engineering, I-House, History Colorado, 2008