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Retired UW Researcher Contributes to State’s 100 Most Significant Sites, Buildings Website

April 6, 2018
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The Wyoming Territorial Prison is among five Laramie sites listed in Wyoming’s 100 most significant historical buildings and sites. Mary Humstone, a retired UW research scientist in American studies, compiled the list for Archipedia, a website created by the Society of Architectural Historians. (Mary Humstone Photo)

When she was a research scientist in American studies at the University of Wyoming, Mary Humstone says she spent a lot of time at Sunrise Mine, leading field research at the iron ore mine and company town operated from 1898-1980.

So, it is no surprise that the Platte County site is her favorite of the 100 most significant state historical buildings and sites included on a new website called SAH Archipedia, a scholarly project of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH). The website includes histories, photographs and maps for more than 3,600 structures in 1,490 cities in all 50 states.

Humstone, who retired from UW in 2014, was the editor for the Wyoming section of the website, which includes UW, the Wyoming Territorial Prison, Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park and the Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow.

“It is a place I have visited often,” Humstone says of Sunrise Mine. “It had one of the early YMCAs, which was built in the early 1900s. At its peak, Sunrise Mine had 500-600 people. Now, it’s a ghost town.”

“She chose the 100 and organized all of the contributors who wrote the individual entries, and she wrote many of them herself,” says Anthony Denzer, chair of the UW Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering.

Humstone says the first 50 Wyoming sites have been on the website for a couple of years, but that it could be better publicized and used as “a great travel tool.”

Each entry has a written history, which includes when the building or site was constructed; the name of the architect(s); architectural style; and materials used. Additionally, each entry includes photos and Google map location. Structures built in the 1920s head the list with 25, followed by 22 in the 1910s and 21 during the 1900s. Humstone says she had 14 contributing writers help compile the information.

“I love to research and write. It was really fun to delve into the history of these places,” Humstone says. “I had been to a lot of them, but I didn’t know who built them; how they were built; and their significance. I feel like I learned a lot.”

While at UW, Humstone taught architectural history and historic preservation courses, and field classes around the state. She had worked on the Archipedia website for Wyoming’s section since 2014, and it took SAH nearly a year to load all of the historical site information onto its website.

However, her work on the project dates back to the 1980s, when SAH originally planned a similar project in book form. Humstone successfully applied for and was chosen to compile the Wyoming entries. During the process, SAH ran out of funding and had to put the book project on hold. When the project was revived in 2014, SAH decided to publish the information online.

Humstone again applied for the Wyoming work and was selected because she had compiled so much previous information on the state’s historic sites for the book project.

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Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful Inn is among historic hotels listed in Wyoming’s 100 most significant historical buildings and sites. (Richard Collier, Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources Photo)

Paring the list down to 100 historical buildings and sites was not easy, she says, admitting she started with nearly 600 places when working on the book.

“A big factor was visibility,” she explains, regarding how the list was eventually cut to 100. “Ideally, these would be buildings people could visit or view from the public right-of-way.”

Iconic Yellowstone National Park leads the list with the most buildings or sites, with eight. Casper, Cheyenne and F.E. Warren Air Force Base follow with seven each. Jackson, Jay Em and Laramie each have five.

In addition to UW and the territorial prison, other Laramie buildings listed include the Centennial Complex on the UW campus; Laramie’s west side neighborhood; and Ivinson Mansion. Ames Monument, located approximately 20 miles east of Laramie, also made the cut.

Some peculiar oddities include Fossil Cabin in Medicine Bow and the Piedmont charcoal kilns in southwestern Wyoming.

“There are a lot of historic hotels in Wyoming. I feel these are really interesting,” Humstone says. “People can actually stay in these places.”

In addition to Old Faithful Inn and the Virginian, she names the Sheridan Inn, Hotel Wolf in Saratoga and Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.

“I think it’s a great tool for anyone researching historic buildings in Wyoming,” Humstone says.

The full list of Wyoming buildings and sites is here.

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