Who is Ken Pratt and why did Longmont name Highway 119 after him?
There are thousands of Longmont residents who remember driving along Florida Avenue up until the late 1990s when Colorado Highway 119 was renamed Ken Pratt Boulevard throughout Longmont. We have to go back a few decades to understand Mr. Pratt’s contributions to the community, so our story starts in 1912.
In 1912, The Pratt Agency, a residential real estate development firm, was opened by M.E. Pratt. The Pratt family began to broker real estate, and they also operated coal and fuel businesses in the Longmont area. M.E. Pratt passed the business on to his son Harold, who passed on the business to his son Kenneth (Ken), but not before creating Northern Colorado’s largest independent real estate agency.
After Harold’s death, Ken Pratt sought new growth opportunities for his family’s business in residential and commercial real estate. From Fox Hill to Longmont Estates, Ken oversaw the development of nearly 2,000 homes in Longmont. On the commercial side of the business, The Pratt Agency developed or built almost 2 million square feet of commercial property which included the old Plaza Event Center. Recognizing a need for local businesses to host business meetings, Pratt designed and built the Plaza Hotel and Event Center. Today, the event center has been closed and the hotel is under new management.
Ken Pratt was truly a businessman who focused on Longmont’s economic development. He was one of the founders of the Longmont Area Economic Council, and he helped bring Japanese business to Boulder County. Pratt even traveled with Colorado Governor Roy Romer (1986-1990) to Japan to encourage development in Longmont, and the emperor and empress of Japan visited Longmont in 1994, staying with Pratt and his wife Susan.
Pratt died on March 30, 1995 at the age of 53. On April 1, 1996 the City of Longmont, Colorado Government renamed Florida Avenue as Ken Pratt Boulevard from Main Street to Hover Road, honoring Pratt’s contributions to the community.
There are a few other streets in Longmont with the name Pratt, and many folks assume they are also named for Ken Pratt. Pratt Parkway, Pratt Place, Pratt Street, and Pratt Way are all actually named for Colonel C.N. Pratt. It was Col. Pratt who organized the Chicago-Colorado Colony in Chicago in November 1870. There is no relation between these two men, other than where there streets intersect. #ThrowBackThursday
Photo courtesy of the Longmont Times-Call.