Friday, July 9, 2010

Buffalo's Preserved Main Street

Kate and I grew up in small towns in Iowa and Illinois, respectively, and that may account for our being drawn to small towns in our travels. And we especially appreciate small towns that value their history--especially the "colorful" history--and make every effort to preserve the character of its buildings.

Buffalo, Wyoming, fit the description of such a town. All of downtown Buffalo is now listed by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a part of their National Register of Historic Districts.

Built in 1909, Margo's Pottery, with its cast iron façade, was originally known as the Theatorium and served as the town’s first motion picture theater. Later and for many many years, it was the Buffalo Bar where, traditionally, the cattlemen from the area drank (the sheepherders frequented the other side of the street).

This building with a tan brick façade was build in 1917. Home to the Bison Theater, Buffalo’s first modern movie theatre until 1984, it was later Kennedy’s Saloon and Billiard Hall.

Built around 1910, the Baker Building contained the post office during the 1920s, before becoming the Senate Saloon, a grocery store, and the Johnson County Bank among other businesses.

Behind Main Street, a wide alley provided each saloon with a rear entrance for the cconvenience of the ladies of the evening.

This unique two-story all-cast-iron façade was constructed in 1895. It was typical of the time to bring in pre-manufactured building facades to dress up local buildings constructed with native brick. This is the only surviving building in Buffalo with such extensive cast iron façade work.

The "seven-shaped" sign was attached to the building during the filming of the movie, "Endangered Species" in 1981 to serve as a sign for the fictitious local newspaper, Buffalo Citizen’s Journal. Interestingly, the building was actually home to the Buffalo Bulletin in 1906.

Repeatedly built and rebuilt out of locally kilned brick from 1804-1901, this site was the home of the Capitol Hotel-–considered the finest inn this side of Cheyenne. The hotel (second floor) and Saloon (first floor) were open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The hotel was operating until the 1950s.

During the walk down Main Street, we heard laughter under the bridge over Clear Creek. This group of tubing enthusiasts provided a nice break from reading the brochure on the Buffalo Main Street Walking Tour.

A National Historic Building erected in 1919 by the first Chinese man in Buffalo, Charles King, it was known then as the King Hotel. The hotel was the only three-story commercial building in Buffalo. It later became the Idlewild Hotel from the 1950s to 1985.

On the left (photo below) is the former Seney's Drug Store, originally the Holt Drug Store, before it was bought in 1910.

As early as 1891, Munkres and Mathers operated a general merchandise store in the building in the center (see photo below). Then, in 1903 the present native brick building was constructed for the Buffalo Hardware Store.

Built in 1887, the building on the right (see photo above) housed the Hasbrouck Haberdashery business. Later, Kube and Kennedy, a men’s clothing store was located here during the early 1900s. Also, this was the location of Buffalo’s first library, and the second floor was used as an opera house.

The oldest building in the commercial district and one of the oldest structures in Wyoming, this two story Neo-Classical style building was constructed in 1884, the year Buffalo was chartered. In early days a wooden white cupola was perched a top this building.

Before we visit the most prominent structure in this town of about 4500, we need to break for lunch.

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