Buildings in Cheyenne, Dakota Territory, 1867

The buildings included in the sketch above, built in 1867, were the first to be built on the northeast corner of Seventeenth street and Carey avenue (Carey avenue was then Ferguson street)today Garlett's Drug Store and Newberry's occupy these locations.

First Building
Manning and Post, Commission Merchants, were the owners of this 22x60 two story building which cost $6,000. They occupied the first floor.

The Daily Rocky Mountain Star which occupied a part of the second story was first published in Cheyenne, December 7, 1867. It was Republican in politics, published by O. T. B. Freeman. The Star lasted about one year. The Argus made its debut in Cheyenne October 24, 1867, occupying part of the second story; it was Democratic in politics; published by L. L. Redell for about two years, later for a few weeks, by Stanton and Richardson.

Second Building
George Tritch and Co., was the owner of this two story building 22x60 which cost about $6,000. The first floor was occupied by Cooper and Preshaw, a storage and commission house.

The Masonic Hall occupied the second floor. On February 29, 1868, the Cheyenne Lodge No. 1 A. F. & A. M. met for the first time in this building.

Third Building
Gallatin d Gallup, saddlers, were the owners and occupants of this one and a half story frame building, 20x40, which cost $1,700.

Fourth Building
Jones and Gray, grocers. Were the owners and occupants of this 20x40, one and a half story frame building, which cost $4,000.

Cheyenne County Courthouse

There seems to be no available authentic data on this building. The photograph is taken from an 1868 map of Cheyenne published by S. H. Winsor, surveyor and civil engineer. Mr. Winsor included on this map sketches of early day Cheyenne buildings on the margins of the map, apparently for decorative purposes.

The Cheyenne Leader, December 31, 1867, mentions that S. H. Winsor was making a map of Cheyenne. On the map we find that it was approved February 1, 1868 by the City Council, which included: Mayor, Col. L. Murrin; City Attorney, W. H. Miller; City Clerk, Ed. Orpen; Council, J. C. Liddell, M. A. Bodgemen, Dr. J. F. Hamilton, P. McDonald, William Wise, C. Sternberger; it also states that S. H. Winsor was City Engineer. Therefore, it is evident that this building was built in Cheyenne, Dakota Territory in 1867. On January 11th, 1870, there occurred a very destructive fire along Sixteenth and Eddy streets; the buildings destroyed are listed in the Cheyenne Daily Leader January 13, 1870 as: T. C. Dickey, $10,000, no insurance, building occupied as U. S. Court Houses Messrs. Howe & Steele; U. S. Marshal, District Clerk and Recorder, U. S. Assessor and Collector, and Judges' Chambers occupied by J. K. Kingman, Associate Justice."

NOTE: However, we have no assurance the Court House destroyed by fire, is the one shown.

Cheyenne Opera House, 1882

The Cheyenne Opera House opened its doors for the first time to a happy enthusiastic audience composed of people from all over the Territory, Denver, and neighboring Colorado towns, and Cheyenne, on May 25, 1882.

After the audience had assembled and the orchestra had completed its overture, the curtain was lowered ''amidst the patting of hands and murmurs of admiration."1

Joseph M. Carey was called upon for an address, in which he gave the history of the City as marked by the public buildings; he named the new opera house as the "third step in an era of progress, a building in which all the stone used was quarried in our own County (Laramie) the brick made in our own City (Cheyenne) and the woodwork carvings and all from the shops of our fellow townsman, Mr. Weybrecht."2 Mr. Carey then mentioned what was to be the fourth step in Cheyenne's progress, stating that in his office safe he had the contract for all the material for a thorough water works system. This news was received with great applause.

The formal dedication of the opera house was reserved for the celebrated Comley-Barton Opera Company which was enjoyed for three nights and one matinee. Their opening performance was the charming French comic opera ''Olivette"; the programs were of perfumed white satin with bright blue print.

There was great display of taste and elegance in dress of the audience; silks and satins appeared in every fashionable shade and color; large hats and bonnets were substituted for small bonnets, for it was a gala event. The Opera House was situated on the northwest corner of Hill (Capitol Ave.) and 17th street. The building was, as it is today, three stories high. The Opera House occupied the entire height of the three floors. No particular style of architecture was followed, several types being combined, which included Queen Anne, Gothic, Norman and French roof.

The entrance to the front of the building was on 17th street; to the right of this entrance were two large rooms, which were used for the Territorial Library. The main entrance to the Opera House and the second floor was on Hill Street (Capitol Ave.). Inside the Hill street entrance was the ticket office. A large open stairway built of ash and black walnut, lead to the balcony on the second floor.

The third floor was divided into 12 rooms, which were occupied by the telephone exchange and different lodges.

The theatre proper, consisted of the parquette, dress circle, gallery or family circle, "proscenium boxes," inclined stage, orchestra pit, etc. Four fine boxes adorned either side of the stage; the parquette, with an inclined floor, was in the form of a half circle; the dress circle was in the rear of the parquette; above this was the gallery or family circle. The seats were of the latest pattern of opera folding chairs. The Theatre seated 860 persons and 1,000 could be comfortably handled. It was heated by two large furnaces and lighted with gas. An immense 52 light chandelier hung from the ceiling with a large glass mirror reflector; single lights with glass globe shades were placed about the walls; there were two large lights outside of the two entrances. "By using gas the stage can be darkened at pleasure, something new, by the way in the history of Cheyenne."3

The Architects were Messrs. Cooper and Anderson of Cheyenne and Pueblo (Colorado). J. S. Matthews, their chief draftsman, supervised the construction.

The interior of the Opera House was one of magnificence and splendor, the plain white walls were relieved on the east side by three large ornamental windows set with cathedral glass, 600 panes being used in the work. All through the theatre the woodwork was of maple finish. The parquette and dress circle were separated by a rail upholstered with red silk plush, the front of the balcony was protected by a wire screen, a guard rail, also ornamented with red silk plush. On either side of the stage were four boxes, each guarded by a heavy bronze rail, which in keeping with the other upholstering was of heavy red silk plush; the arches of these boxes were draped with dark red curtains ornamented with deep fringe and in the rear hung long heavy white lace curtains. The drop curtain was a scene from the celebrated Chariot Races by Gerome.

The Cheyenne Opera House and Library Company was incorporated April 18th, 1881. The company was composed of the prominent men of Cheyenne and vicinity.

Officers being J. M. Carey, President; Thomas Sturgis, Vice President; Isaac Bergman, Secretary and Henry G. Hay, Treasurer. The management of the opera house was under the control of D. C. Rhodes, Lessee and Manager, and G. A. Guertin, Assistant Manager. There were eleven sets of scenery and numerous extras. Charles S. King, stage carpenter, installed the stage machinery and scenes. It is interesting to note the number of famous actors and actresses who performed in the Cheyenne Opera House in those early days. A few of the most noted ones, were Edwin Booth, in ''Hamlet," April 18, 1887; Sarah Bernhardt in "Fedora," June 2, 1887; Lily Langtry in ''A Wife's Peril," June 11, 1887; Madame Modjeska in "Much Ado About Nothing," July 6, 1889; Richard Mansfield in "Beau Brummel," June 22, 1893, and many others equally famous, too numerous to mention.

The doors of the Cheyenne Opera House were open for twenty years. May 25, 1882 to December 7, 1902, when the interior of the Opera House was destroyed by fire.

1. The Cheyenne Daily Leader, May 26, 1882.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
Words in parenthesis are inserts.

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Source: Annals of Wyoming, Volume 15, April 1943, Wyoming Historical Department, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

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