$299 million restoration of Wyoming state Capitol unearths historic “treasures”

Carpenters who remodeled the Wyoming state Capitol nearly 75 years ago walled up an entire office door that has been hidden from public view ever since.

Until now.

The recent discovery of the door is among the surprises from the past that have been found so far during the Capitol Square Project.

Built between 1886 and 1890, the Capitol is located in Cheyenne and contains the chambers of the Wyoming State Legislature and well as the office of the Governor of Wyoming. It was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark during 1987.

The Capitol is located north of downtown Cheyenne. The exterior approach to the front steps of the capitol features the State Seal in granite as well as two statues:

  • Esther Hobart Morris, who had a significant role in gaining women’s suffrage in the Wyoming Territory. The statue was sculpted by Avard Fairbanks. The Act to grant women the right to vote was passed by the First Territorial Assembly and signed by Governor John Allen Campbell on December 10, 1869. Wyoming was thus first government in the world to grant women the right to vote. Morris was also appointed as the first female Justice of the Peace in the territory during 1870.
  • Chief Washakie of the Shoshone tribe. The statue was sculpted by Dave McGary. Chief Washakie earned a reputation that lives on to this day-fierce warrior, skilled politician and diplomat, great leader of the Shoshone people, friend to white men. Washakie granted right-of-way through Shoshone land in western Wyoming to the Union Pacific Railroad, aiding the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The famed leader and warrior died at the age of 102 in 1900. He was buried with full military honors at Fort Washakie.

Other treasures recovered from the Capitol so far include a rusty chisel, a glove, an old whisky bottle retrieved from under the main staircase, An unopened time capsule from 1983 from the Herschler Building, and a piece of window trim on which a man’s signature and the date 1891 are printed.

These items offer a window into what life was like more than 100 years ago in Cheyenne.

Pre-restoration photo by Postdlf via Wikipedia.

See full Wyoming Tribune Eagle article by Becky Orr.

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