Casper’s Top 10 Historic and Storied Buildings
When given the choice of assignments for top 5 lists around Casper, when i saw this one, i jumped at it. But i couldn't stop at 5. History has always been a passion of mine so the opportunity to showcase some of the historic buildings in Casper was right up my alley. Now we don't have the history of Europe, with buildings built before the birth of Christ. Our history of man-made buildings, at least in the Casper area goes back decades, not centuries. However, that doesn't mean that we are lacking in architecture or history. There is not a lot of rhyme or reason to my choices other than they struck a chord in me at some point in time in my life and knowing that the first commercial building is here, the first church and others gives me a sense of grounding knowing that they have been here since the beginnings of Casper. This is only a sampling of the wonderful buildings that have stood the test of time. I hope you enjoy them and their stories.
The Tribune Building
Casper Fire Station and Municipal Garage
This three story,7500 square ft home was built in 1909 and is known as one of the oldest and largest mansions in Casper. Patrick Sullivan,a well known sheep rancher and businessman received three lots from Joseph Carey,the owner of the CY ranch,with the stipulation that he build an outstanding home that would attract other buyers and builders. Patrick Sullivan also served as a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives, was a Mayor of Casper and a US Senator in 1929-1930. This is still a residence.
The Rialto started out as the New Lyric Theatre and sold a year later for $50,ooo and renamed. Admission for a movie at the Rialto Theatre when it was built in 1921 was 40 cents for an adult and a dime for a child. The Rialto, with its elegant interior, made it the preeminent theatre for first run films. In 1928 The Rialto was the first theatre in Casper to feature a Vitaphone sound system which brought to an end the silent film era. The theatre has been updated more than a couple times and is still a popular place for movie goers.
This building is all that is left of the “Grand Hotels” of Casper. Built in 1923 the original building had all of the cornices, columns, flowers and urns that one associated with the grand hotels of the Roaring 20's. The Townsend Hotel of present day is a bit more formal as the current Natrona County Townsend Justice Center. Inside the lobby of the courthouse is a great history of the building and the area.
This mansion was built by Casper's first millionaire, Welker F. Henning. Mr Henning was a plumber by trade and made his fortune by bringing in the first mechanical trencher to install storm sewers that were necessary when the city started paving streets. The Henning Mansion is still a residence and still beautiful.
Built in 1907 this home was the first multi story brick home built in Casper. This home was designed in the style of Marvin L Bishops childhood home in Virginina. Marvin was appointed Postmaster for Casper in 1892 then went on to become a prominent sheep rancher in the area. Mr Bishop went on to found the Wyo Woolgrowers Association and was instrumental in establishing a number of stock drives and rest stations for livestock across Natrona County. The home is now a museum of sorts and available for functions and tours.
Not to be confused with the current Odd Fellow Building and Wolcott Galleria, this is the original built in 1896 at a cost of 10,000$ this building is the oldest commercial structure in downtown. The Odd Fellows Building was the social center of Casper, serving as the meeting place for a number of clubs and organizations Electric lighting was added in 1900. In 1902 the Sheriff at the time was also the Grand Noble of the Odd Fellows and was murdered in the line of duty, his killer was taken from his jail cell and hanged by a vigilante committee. This building went on to become the home of Woolworths for many years and today is a Wyoming lifestyle store called R.W. Tauberts.
Casper's first church was constructed in 1891 and was originally called St Marks Episcopal and was located on the southwest corner of 2nd and Wolcott. In 1954 the structure was moved to the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds and became the Pioneer museum until 1990 when it was returned to it's original use as a chapel.
NCHS was completed in 1927. It is a traditional Gothic Collegiate style. It has been said that the structure is reminiscent of a European castle with the turrets, finials and a number of other embellishments adding to the effect. Interesting story about the school is that the citizens of Casper at the time thought that the building was over extravagant and those same citizens did not re-elect any of the school board members who had voted for the project. Although changes have been made over the years, NCHS remains a healthy and vibrant school.