Summer Exhibit Series: Laramie Architecture

The summer exhibit series at the American Heritage Center celebrating Laramie’s 150th anniversary brings out a new theme this week: Buildings in Laramie.

The “Hell on Wheels” tent town that greeted the official arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad in Laramie on May 4, 1868, was soon replaced with a milieu of bustling life and buildings. Within two weeks of the railroad reaching Laramie, shanties of boards, logs, ties, and canvas popped up around the tracks with 400 town lots also having been sold.

With the Union Pacific providing jobs through the construction of shops and a roundhouse, soon the town included a public school, three churches, and a national bank. By 1890, these buildings had increased to include an electric light plant, rolling mills, soda works, planning mills, a brewery, flour mill, glassworks, brick kilns, stone quarries, a railroad tie treatment plant, and a soap factory. Public buildings had expanded to include a courthouse, city hall, territorial prison, and various mercantile establishments.


Laramie architectural walking tour brochure from 1989. T.A. Larson papers, Accession #400029, Box 29, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The AHC is home to diverse collections containing various types of materials depicting the buildings that have dotted Laramie’s landscape over the last 150 years. Over the next two weeks, two collections will display a variety of buildings in Laramie. These two collections are the Hitchcock & Hitchcock (Firm) papers and Wyoming postcards found in the James L. Ehernberger Western Railroad Collection.

Hitchcock & Hitchcock was an architectural firm that operated in Laramie from the 1940s to the late 1980s. The founders, brothers Eliot and Clinton, worked on various projects across the city and the collection contains blueprints from their work.

Eliot and Clinton were the sons of Wilbur A. Hitchcock, who was a professor of civil engineering at the University of Wyoming from 1912 to 1921. In 1921 Wilbur opened a private architectural firm in Laramie and often collaborated with William Dubois, an architect from Cheyenne. The collection also contains blueprints from Wilbur’s architectural work in the 1910s and 20s.


A drawing of the original Ivinson Hospital, once located at 10th and Ivinson. The building  was designed by Wilbur Hitchcock. It operated as a hospital from 1916 to 1973. Hitchcock & Hitchcock (Firm) records, Accession #9921, Box 112, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

James L. Ehernberger was a dispatcher for the Union Pacific Railroad and is a published historian of railroad history in the western United States. He has collected a variety of records documenting railroads history in the West as well as a collection of Wyoming postcards.


Commemorative reproduction poster of the original Union Pacific Railroad advertisement celebrating the opening of the Union Pacific Railroad. James L. Ehernberger Western Railroad Collection, Accession #10674, Box 647, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The Buildings in Laramie exhibits runs from May 14 to May 29. Exhibits can be viewed in the 4th floor Reading Room of the American Heritage Center. The Reading Room hours are 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM on Monday and 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Tuesday through Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday.

For more details about Laramie’s 150th anniversary celebration, see Celebratory events are planned all summer and into the fall.

Laramie's 150th

– Submitted by Katey Parris, AHC Reference Department.

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