Did you know that the only time “capitol” with an “o” is supposed to be used is when you are talking about a building? If you are on the third floor of the library, in the northeast corner, you will be standing in your library’s Capital Room, in the capital city of Wyoming, gazing at the newly unveiled Wyoming Capitol dome!! It is quite a view from that height and safer than trying to ogle it while driving your car.
Just a heads up – the Capital Room is the only silent space in the library. You won’t even be able to ooh and aahh in there. It has different furnishings than any other space in your library. Check out the glass display case with unique sculptures and the fire place that is surrounded by the marble that was on the check-out desk when the library was located at 2800 Central Ave. There is a globe and copies of some daily newspapers for readers to enjoy in this great silent space.
Looking at the grand view from that room, I am getting pretty excited about the grand opening of the Wyoming Capitol that will happen 129 years into our statehood on July 10, 2019. I was surprised that there is not a lot of easily accessible information in print format on the history of the capitol. The Capitol Square Project Committee has done an outstanding job with the website www.wyomingcapitolsquare.com. I love getting information online, but there is also joy in doing research and finding bits and pieces of information from various sources. That type of research employs a different type of learning, and putting those pieces together gives you a different breadth and depth of knowledge that you cannot get from simply reading a website.
Wyoming History by T. A. Larson, call number 978.7 LAR, states, “In one act, approved by the Governor on March 4, 1886, provision was made for the construction of a capitol building at Cheyenne, at a cost not exceeding $150,000, and for the establishment of the University of Wyoming at Laramie, with a building cost not to exceed more than $50,000.” We were still a territory!
A rare book, Cheyenne Landmarks, published in 1976 by the Laramie County Chapter of the Wyoming State Historical Society, has wonderful photos and a great overview of many Cheyenne buildings, including a brief synopsis on our capitol. This item is in the Reference Collection and cannot be checked out. The call number is REF 978.7 LAR.
Your library has an amazing collection of notebooks called the LeClercq Jones Collection. You can find this collection of notebooks in the Special Collections Room on the third floor of the library. The collection is the research of LeClercq (Lee) Jones, a local business man, who gave the library his collection upon his death. It consists of 60 notebooks chronicling the downtown area of Cheyenne over several decades. The original notebooks have been preserved by library volunteers who put in thousands of hours! Scholars may see the originals by appointment with Elaine Hayes, Special Collections Librarian. Those same volunteers made a copy of the collection for the rest of us to view. This collection may only be used in the library. If there is no volunteer or employee at the service point in that room, please ask anyone at the Ask Here desk on the third floor and they can assist you in the Special Collections Room.
In the LeClercq Jones Collection I discovered an entire notebook on the capitol building that includes early floor layouts, copies of newspaper articles from the laying of the corner stone in May 18, 1887, information on the addition of the east and west wings in 1889, and more information on a face lift completed in 1980. There are amazing photos from the interior when it was restored in 1980. This notebook includes a few photos of the construction of the original Herschler building.
Another interesting source is the Wyoming Newspaper Project, a database that includes more than 340 historic newspapers with over 800,000 pages consisting mostly of Wyoming newspapers from 1849 through 1922. The Wyoming State Library, working with the Wyoming State Archives, created this amazing database, which can be accessed here: https://newspapers.wyo.gov/home. Their website states, “Wyoming Newspapers is a continual work-in-progress. …We have other newspapers, though not as many, ranging from 1923 through 1989. There are missing pages, issues, years, and titles that we are constantly on the lookout for. If you have any historic Wyoming newspapers, please email Thomas Ivie or call (307) 777-6330.” Ask me sometime about my great uncle who shot a man over water rights in Big Horn County in the late 1890’s and the great newspaper articles I found in this source regarding his release from the Wyoming Territorial Prison. Search this database for articles written around the state in 1886 and 1917 regarding the capitol in Cheyenne.
If you want to prepare prior to your tour of the capitol on July 10th, there is one more resource you might find helpful. The booklet Overview of the Capitol Square Project is a quick read. Published in November 2016 it lays out all the intended outcomes. This also is an item that can only be used in the library – call number WYO REF 978.7 CAPITOL 2016.
Please visit the Capitol Square Project website for an excellent overview, but let me know if you find other tidbits of information if you choose to do research on your own. You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – great hunting!!
~Carey D. Hartmann, Executive Director