Margareth Merrill Memorial Gazebo
Margareth Merrill, who was active in many roles at the Poudre Landmarks Foundation for decades, passed away in February 2015. On a lovely summer day in July of the same year, Margareth’s family and friends gathered at the Avery House to celebrate her legacy and dedicate the Avery House gazebo to her memory.
PLF was founded in 1972 by a group of local citizens committed to celebrating and preserving the beautiful 1879 Avery House. Thus began a long partnership with the City of Fort Collins, whereby PLF manages the Avery House—and our sister property the 1883 Water Works—and the City maintains the facilities and grounds.
PLF’s mission is to preserve, restore, protect, and interpret the architectural and cultural heritage of the Fort Collins area. We work toward this mission by offering tours of the Avery House and Water Works, by presenting the Annual Historic Homes Tour, and by providing the community with unique ways to celebrate and learn about local history. During her many years of service to PLF, Margareth was a crucial part of this mission to preserve local history. The naming in her honor of the restored gazebo, the heart of the Avery House gardens, is a lasting tribute to an irreplaceable spirit.
A gazebo has been on the Avery House property—in the same location—since the days of the Avery family. The Averys called it the Summer House and had many picnics there, including a big Independence Day picnic with extended family. The gazebo apparently looked much the same then as now.
At some point several decades ago, the concrete pad was installed as the floor of the gazebo, and a section of a tree trunk was used as the base for a permanent wooden table. The gazebo was in disrepair this past decade and was in great need of restoration.
In the spring of 2015, as donations to the Avery House Margareth Merrill Memorial Fund began to come in, Margareth’s husband, Dr. Gil Merrill, suggested that perhaps PLF could use some of the funds to repair and improve the gazebo. The generous donations to the Avery House in Margareth’s memory reflect the great love and respect for her by all who knew her. The Avery House Guild voted unanimously to name the soon-to-be-restored gazebo in Margareth’s honor.
Work on the Margareth Merrill Memorial Gazebo was completed in June 2015. The updated gazebo has already been in use at several weddings and for our annual Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration. It is a highly visible monument and will be the site for countless events in the future, a lasting tribute to an irreplaceable leader and friend who inspired us all by her example.
How can we begin to describe Margareth’s Poudre Landmarks Foundation legacy? A few highlights:
- Joined PLF in 1981
- Guild chair 1981-82
- PLF president 1984-85
- John Power Award Recipient 1990
- 15-year service certificate 1997
- Guild Council early 2000s
- Costume Committee—15 years, including the loan of many family items for exhibit
- Chair of three highly successful fashion show fundraisers over several decades
- File and record-keeper extraordinaire: minutes, newsletter articles, event records. Because of Margareth we have a lasting record of PLF and its growth, especially important in the pre-computer years
- Organizer of the 1997 PLF 25th anniversary celebration
- Annual Christmas Open House—Decorating and contributing her family’s antique stockings for the mantle every year. One memorable year, her family’s antique dollhouses were the highlight of the season.
Margareth’s family also left PLF a profoundly generous and lasting gift for the enjoyment of Avery House visitors for generations to come: the Margareth Merrill Costume and Furnishings Collections, an exceptional, important donation that spans three generations of Margareth’s family and adds a new depth and dimension to the Avery House Collections.
The list of Margareth’s many gifts and achievements during her decades with PLF is impossible to complete, as she did so much. She leaves all of us who knew and loved her an enduring legacy of kindness, service, and dedication—and above all—that unique blend of grace and insight that defined our dear Margareth.
—This article was excerpted and adapted from a speech written and presented by Kimberly Miller, PLF board member and Avery Guild chair, at the July 30, 2015, gazebo dedication ceremony on the Avery grounds.