About Casa Lou Cardenas

Casa Lou Cardenas celebrates the life of Longmont trailblazer

A woman named Eloyeda "Lou" Cardenas embodied this Diane Luna quote during her 99 years of life. Lou was a Longmont resident of Hispanic ancestry who overcame barriers and radically altered the city’s landscape by pushing for diversity, equity, and inclusion when such issues weren’t at the forefront of conversation. To ensure her legacy remains intact, a local developer has chosen to memorialize Lou at Casa Lou Cardenas, a new, mixed-use building on the corner of 9th and Main Street in Longmont.

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"Collaboration, creativity, and respect build lifelong connections that matter and make a difference, propelling us to work together across all boundaries.”

--Diane Luna

Lou’s Upbringing

Lou was born to Ricardita Rael and Margarito Pacheco on September 7, 1918, in Rainsville, New Mexico. Facing poverty and work uncertainty, Lou’s family frequently moved across the Southwest during her early childhood. In 1929, when the Great Depression began, Lou’s family relocated from New Mexico to Longmont, Colorado, to harvest sugar beets on local farm fields. However, this proved to be arduous work, especially when the temperatures plummeted. 
“When we arrived in Colorado, we hadn’t harvested sugar beets before and didn’t even know what they were,” Lou, who at the time was a 10-year-old harvester, admitted. “The ground was often frozen and sometimes the snow got all the way to the top of our knees. When we finally finished topping beets that December, my Daddy said, ‘No more. This is it. We're not going to work with beets any longer. This work is way too hard.’” (Duncan, 1988)
Consequently, the clan migrated roughly 130 miles southwest, where they secured employment on a seed farm in Leadville, Colorado. 
“We worked on a seed farm in Leadville for five years from 1930 until 1935,” Lou said. “There, we worked from sunrise to sunset, shocking grain, corn, wheat, and barley. It was difficult work, and we only slept a few hours each night because we’d wake up at 3 a.m. and arrive home around 7 p.m.” (ibid.)

Returning to Longmont

Four years later, in 1939, a 22-year-old Lou married Joe Cardenas. The couple briefly settled in New Mexico until Lou decided she wanted to return to Longmont and raise a family there. 
“I missed Colorado and wanted to live there,” Lou said, adding that her five children were born and bred in Longmont. “I started working as a cleaning lady at St. Vrain Hospital. I did that for about six or eight months before I began working in the hospital’s kitchen. Altogether, I was there for three and a half years.” (Duncan, 1988)
Lou’s experiences at St. Vrain Hospital motivated her and helped her develop a passion for senior services. She started regularly attending city council meetings, became a board member at Meals on Wheels, and played a pivotal role in establishing Longmont’s bus transit services. 
Perhaps most importantly, in 1971 Lou opened the first small Senior Opportunity Center in a donated space along 4th Ave between Main and Coffman which led to her serving on Longmont’s Senior Citizens Advisory Board at the current Longmont Senior Center.

Sugar beet field

This photo, taken in 1942, is of Emma Suazo, another sugar beet worker in Longmont. Photo courtesy of the Longmont Times-Call. With thanks to the Longmont Museum.

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Lou Cardenas Photo courtesy of the Longmont Times-Call.

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Lou Cardenas in 1971. Photo courtesy of the Longmont Times-Call.

A Community Builder

Longmont’s population continues to increase and, as of 2020, nearly 100,000 people reside there. Of those residents, 23,800 are of Hispanic ancestry. However, when Lou moved to Longmont, she was a minority in a population that was primarily comprised of White people. Sadly, many business owners at that time posted “White Trade Only” signs in their storefront windows.  
The Senior Services Manager at the current Longmont Senior Center, Michele Waite, considers Lou to be a pioneering community builder who reshaped the center and pushed it to become more diverse. 
"Back then in 1981, we didn't have a lot of Latino participation,” said Waite, who met Lou when Lou was serving on the Senior Citizens' Advisory Board. “Lou was not afraid to use her voice to spur change, and she had a sense of what older Latino community members wanted in a senior center. She was really a trailblazer in that way. She really was courageous, and she used her voice and used her connections to provide guidance to city leaders. Lou was key in making the senior center embrace and take on being a welcoming place for all people." (Hammon, 2021)

Celebrating Lou’s legacy

Lou passed away in 2017 after a long life of 99 years. Although she is no longer a pillar of Longmont society, her legacy as a force for change and her efforts to inspire inclusivity have outlived her. When Jennifer Peterson, the owner and developer of JSY Properties, decided to construct a beautiful mixed-use building on the corner of 9th and Main, she was inspired by Lou’s story. After meeting and getting to know several of Lou’s descendants, Peterson decided, with their blessing, to honor Lou by naming the building Casa Lou Cardenas.  
Peterson, a 30-year resident of Longmont, desires to continue Lou’s legacy of equity and inclusion by creating a place where residents, business owners, and customers can build social bridges across cultural boundaries that lead to meaningful community connections. 

Information for Renters 

Casa Lou Cardenas, which is scheduled to be completed by Fall 2023, will include six residential apartments and four commercial spaces for rent. If you’d like the opportunity to live or work in a place of beauty dedicated to experiencing the riches of a multicultural community, click here to contact us for information about leasing at Casa Lou Cardenas.

ReferencesDuncan, Oli Olivas. We, Too, Came to Stay: A History of the Longmont Hispanic Community. Longmont Hispanic Study and El Comite, 1988. 
Hammon, Kelsey. “Two Longmont Women Built Foundations for Service Organizations Today.” Longmont Times-Call, Longmont Times-Call, 12 Mar. 2021, https://www.timescall.com/2021/03/11/two-longmont-womens-efforts-built-foundations-for-service-organizations-today/. 

Love Where You Live & Work

Live and work in the newest, energy-efficient commercial and residential spaces in Longmont, Colorado.

● Commercial and Residential Spaces Available● Energy-Efficient Upgrades Save on Monthly Utility Bills● Electric Vehicle Parking● Purified Air Systems in Residences● Heating & AC Uses 50% Less Energy Than Traditional Systems

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