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UW Graduate Students Begin Work on Historic Preservation Project
October 27, 2010 — Folks who live on the west side of Laramie may soon see University of Wyoming students in their neighborhood, clipboards and cameras in hand. Their mission: To gather information about the oldest part of Laramie.
Spurred by their interest in historic preservation, UW graduate students Carly-Ann Anderson and Molly Goldsmith are working on a cultural resources survey of a 20-block area bounded by Clark Street to the north, Park Avenue to the south, the Laramie River to the west and the railroad tracks to the east.
"I don't think a lot of people know about the rich history in that part of Laramie," says Goldsmith, a second-year graduate student from Princeton, Ill. "It's going to be a nice reminder that there is something else around here besides campus and the university district. It's not just a college town."
Adds Anderson, a first-year graduate student from Cheyenne, "It was a railroad town before it was a college town."
Under the direction of Mary Humstone, a historic preservation specialist in the UW American Studies Program, Anderson and Goldsmith have begun to document history of the area -- block by block -- and build a list of properties. They and other students and volunteers will be in the field during the spring semester to record buildings and interview residents.
The Albany County Historic Preservation Board and the UW American Studies will host an informational meeting for residents at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, at the Lincoln Community Center, 452 N. Cedar St. The project is being funded through a grant from the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office.
"The first thing you want to do in a survey like this is to find out what you have and if it has historic significance, the next step is to enroll it in the National Register of Historic Places," Humstone says. "Carly and Molly are not only going to learn a lot about this part of Laramie but I'm sure there will probably be some myths debunked during the survey."
Anderson believes one myth has already been squashed.
"I think a lot of people consider that area to be the wrong side of the tracks," she says. "But I don't see that being very true at all."
The surveyed area, which Humstone says had unpaved streets in many parts until the mid-1970s, features the oldest houses in the Gem City, some dating to 1875. Anderson and Goldsmith say they expect to uncover more "forgotten history" during their work.
Residents who live in the west side area under survey and want to share information, call Humstone at (307) 766-4929 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Laramie Filling Station/West Side Garage, shown in an image from the Ludwig-Svenson Studio Collection, was once located at 312 S. Cedar St.