This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.
Just east of Wadsworth Boulevard, tucked away behind a bank of old growth trees at Pierce Street and 92nd Avenue, is a charming spot called Semper Farm. This homestead, established in 1881, was once part of a forgotten village called Semper.
Semper wasn’t much more than a cluster of farms, centered by a stage stop, railroad depot, post office and general store. Pierce Street follows the old Cherokee Trail, which continued on along today’s Highway 287 through Broomfield. Later, the Semper section of the Cherokee Trail became a well-used wagon and stage trail called Wagon Road. Still later, it became Pierce Street.
Semper’s founders had big plans for streets and houses that never quite panned out at the time. For many years it remained one of Broomfield’s closest neighboring villages. Also a stop on the C&S train four and a half miles down the tracks toward Denver from Broomfield, the village was named after Colorado pioneers Charles and Julia Semper. Semper Farm was their homestead..
Charles Semper was the state’s first typesetter, known for setting the type on the first issue of the Rocky Mountain News on April 23, 1859. Although he was born in England, when the Civil War broke out, he headed south to fight for the Confederacy. After the war, he returned to Colorado. He died in 1917 at age 87 after nearly 40 years in Semper.
Julia Semper was the first postmistress of the village in the 1880s. She operated the post office out of their farmhouse until it was moved to the grocery store around 1889. She and Charles were prominent members of the Colorado Pioneers society. She died in San Diego in 1916.
The Semper Farm originally included 160 acres. In 1916, the Sempers sold the farm to George and John Allison. John Allison lived on the farm for the next 50 years, growing wheat, keeping bees and working in his orchard and gardens. Gradually, he subdivided the property and sold the lots, keeping the homestead intact. John Allison’s son Steve next took care of the place and he left it to his daughter Linda when he passed away. In 1989, Linda sold the property to Westminster upon a promise it would remain an open space. History lovers such as Vicky Bunsen of the City of Westminster have made sure that promise was kept.
In 2004, Historian Dawn Bunyak successfully applied for local landmark status for the farm. In 2008, grant money was used to renovate the exterior of the buildings. Two Eagle Scout candidates, Jeffrey Stroud and Jack Kern, and their helpers continued renovating the homestead, including work on the Allison pumphouse built in 1961 and the original brick-lined well that served the Sempers.
Today, Semper Farm is a pleasant stop on the Farmer’s High Line Canal Trail, maintained by the City of Westminster. One section of the homestead is the Allison Community Gardens at Semper Farm, where local gardeners keep up the old tradition of working the land.