This e-newsletter is designed to provide a brief update on the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund and the happenings of its grant recipients.
It is our promise that this e-newsletter be brief, interesting and hopefully something that will provide you with ideas and contacts with other organizations around the state. If you wish to have your activity highlighted in this e-newsletter, please contact Renée Bovée, WCTF Program Coordinator.
Bringing Lander Valley History to Life
A visitor’s experience at the Museum of the American West in Lander has been enhanced by a video project to better bring local history to life. The first eight videos produced each highlight the significance of a building in the Pioneer Living History Village. Local actors, dressed in period clothing, present stories of past happenings in which they were involved. For example, Sheriff Stough, in his home the Stough House, told of his life as a Fremont County sheriff. The videos in custom-built kiosks, are motion activated so that upon entering a building the visitor is greeted by the sheriff, or a schoolteacher, or a bartender. Each of the eight building videos are set up in this manner and are exceptionally well received by the visiting public.
Following the production of the first eight videos, the next step was to produce additional videos so that all the buildings in the pioneer village would be represented. Varying in presentation, these videos are based on a collection of historic photographs. As the photos come into view, a narrator describes aspects of the photo and its relevance to specific buildings in the pioneer village.
This video project has proven powerful in bringing local history to life. We have received many glowing comments from our visitors. Frequently, the videos prompt discussion and remembrances as visitors find themselves thinking of the past and reminiscing about their personal family histories and life experiences.
The successful completion of this important undertaking was made possible through the partnership of the Museum of the American West and grant funds received from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund.
For more information about the Museum of the American West, visit our website.
Preservation Efforts for the Historic Occidental Hotel
Purchased from the Smith family by Dawn Dawson Wexo in 1997, the historic frontier Occidental Hotel, Saloon, Gift Shop, Virginian and Busy Bee Café in Buffalo, WY still stands because of her restoration efforts. Her decision set into motion the preservation of the buildings; which, at the time were designated for demolition in about 8 weeks. This magnificent treasure would have been lost forever to the community and the State of Wyoming.
Dawn truly believed in the property’s valuable history and foundation in the community. She established the Museum of the Occidental Hotel and achieved the registration of the Hotel on the National Register of Historic Places. Meticulously, she began the restoration process of the buildings, while seeking the assistance of investors, volunteers, and residents of Johnson County. She took on business partners from various backgrounds to implement the work and financially support restoration projects that ranged from foundation work to the historical integrity of interior features.
One set of business partners included David and Jackie Stewart. They came to the Occidental in 2005, assisting in financial investments, musical investments, promotional projects, and assisting in the continuation of the buildings’ restoration. The Stewarts became sole owners in 2013 and brought to completion a total of 19 restored hotel rooms. These rooms allow guests from all over the world to become a part of the hotels Old West Frontier history.
Since 2015, the Stewarts have refocused their restoration efforts on the buildings’ exterior structures and interior floors. They started with the restoration of the Occidental’s exterior by having the bricks of the buildings repointed. It was a large scope project that started in 2015 and reached completion in 2017 with the support of the Wyoming Cultural Trust fund who contributed $10,000 dollars to the overall cost of $78,000 to complete the project.
The wood floor refurbishment began shortly after and spanned the 1906 and 1908 buildings. More specifically, they restored the wood floors of the historic Occidental Saloon, the Hotel Lobby and Halls, the upstairs landings, and two hotel rooms.
Presently, the Museum of the Occidental and the Stewarts, with the support of the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund and the Littler Foundation, are actively working on the completion of a roof project. The roof project is focused on the 1906 building which has suffered interior damage because of stress on the roof from environmental factors ranging from freeze and thaw to hail. The project includes the installation of insulation, a window repair, an installation of a commercial grade roof liner, and the installation of gutters and drains for prevention of water collection, and other small repairs. The newest projection for the completion of this roof project is February of 2019.
In the future, Stewarts and the Museum of the Occidental are hoping to move onto the restoration of the buildings’ windows by carefully restoring the frames, glass panes, and repairing any damaged weights that contribute to faulty window operation. The scope of the project is large considering the number of associated buildings and the windows they hold.
The Historic Occidental is a true labor of love and the appreciation of the history these wonderful buildings represent.For more information about the Occidental Hotel, visit the website.
Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund Board Meets in Laramie, November 13-14
The Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund board will meet in Laramie, November 13-14, at the American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, 2111 Willett Drive, Wyoming Stockgrowers Room.
The board meeting will focus on review and award of October 2018 grant applications.
The meeting on November 13 will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude by 5 p.m. The meeting on November 14 will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude by approximately 1 p.m. An executive session may be held if necessary.
The Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund meetings are open to the public. Grant applicants are encouraged to attend any grant review meeting, but cannot participate in the proceedings unless addressed by the board.
The WCTF program coordinator and board cannot confirm exactly when a grant application will be reviewed, but the board does have the option of reviewing an application “out of order” if an applicant is present at the meeting for a limited time.
The agenda is posted on the Cultural Trust website, wyoculturaltrust.com. Please feel free to contact the WCTF program coordinator, Renée Bovée, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 307-777-6312 with any questions.