Hi Johnnie: I moved to Boulder six years ago and would take occasional trips to Longmont. I knew that one of the main roads was called Ken Pratt Boulevard, but thought nothing of it.
About two years ago, my wife and I moved to this fine city and began to explore it a little more in depth. One of the first things we did was buy a map and ride around the town, trying to discover hidden gems and shortcuts. The first thing that we noticed was that there are multiple streets that incorporate Mr. Pratt into their name.
This got me curious, so I Googled “Ken Pratt Longmont” and got nothing but advertisements for used car dealerships. I expanded my search (“Who is Ken Pratt Longmont,” “Ken Pratt the person Longmont,” etc., ad nauseam) and enlisted the help of three friends, yet was still unsuccessful.
I’ve noticed that you seem to have the answer for everything Longmont. So, Johnnie, please, please solve this mystery. Peace. — Ryan
Dear Ryan: I’m here to bring you back from nauseam.
Ken Pratt was a fourth-generation Longmont business and community leader.
Under his direction, the Pratt Agency developed or built nearly 2,000 homes in
neighborhoods ranging from Fox Hill to Longmont Estates, as well as more than 1.8 million square feet of commercial facilities. The company also developed the Raintree Plaza Hotel and Conference Center (now The Plaza) and provided site location services for StorageTek, Hewlett-Packard, McLane Western and other major local employers.
Pratt also was one of the founders of the Economic Development Association of Longmont (now the Longmont Area Economic Council) and was active in recruiting Japanese business to Boulder County. He accompanied Gov. Roy Romer on an economic development mission to Japan, and also participated in marketing missions to the East Coast and in California. During a 1994 visit to Longmont, the emperor and empress of Japan stayed in the home of Ken Pratt and his wife, Susan.
Pratt died on March 30, 1995. On April 1, 1996, to honor his business contributions and his generous contributions to the community — including a $310,000 gift toward Longmont United Hospital’s Hope Cancer Center — the city renamed Florida Avenue as Ken Pratt Boulevard.
So, as you can see, Ken Pratt played a significant role in Longmont’s recent history.
But what about Pratt Street, Pratt Place, Pratt Way and Pratt Parkway?
Those are named after Col. C.N. Pratt, who was among the Chicago Colony group that originally founded Longmont. I don’t have at my disposal as much information about the colonel as I do the developer, but C.N. Pratt’s name has been on Longmont since its inception. Those other names you see on old-town Longmont streets — Terry, Coffman, Kimbark and others — come from people who played pivotal roles in the founding and growth of this city.
So, there you have it, Ryan. One Pratt helped create Longmont. The other helped build Longmont. They were not related and did not intersect in history, but they do intersect at the corner of Pratt and Pratt.
Dear Readers: Speaking of the Pratt Parkway, city transportation engineer Bob Ball tells me that the white stripe that separates the merging lane onto the South Pratt Parkway is to be repainted soon, possibly by the time you read this. (I know, that’s what I said last time, but I’ll trust it’s getting done.)