The hat box of old photographs sat in a closet in Mattie Lyle’s Seattle home for decades.
When she died in 1995, Lyle left the box to her granddaughter, Sharon, and Sharon’s husband, David. The newlyweds stuck it on a shelf in their garage.
It would be years before they pulled it down to take a good, hard look at the black-and-white snapshots.
And it would take even longer — until 2020 — for a historic preservation planner in Fort Collins to find the couple.
The photos — crisp images of rare, candid moments — showed Black life in early Fort Collins like never before. Sharon and David had unknowingly been hanging onto a treasure-trove of Fort Collins history.
Take a special peek into the early history of Fort Collins’ small, tight-knit Black community in the latest episode of Coloradoan history podcast “The Way it Was.”
Celebrate Black History Month:CSU offering more than 20 in-person, virtual events
Erin Udell reports on news, culture, history and more for the Coloradoan. Contact her at ErinUdell@coloradoan.com. The only way she can keep doing what she does is with your support. If you subscribe, thank you. If not, sign up for a digital subscription to the Coloradoan today.