National Register of Historic Places

Old Main


Date Added to Register

Friday, July 11, 1986

Smithsonian Number


Read all about it

On March 4, 1886, Governor Frances E. Warren of Wyoming Territory signed the act which authorized establishment of the University and appropriated $50,000 for construction of a building. The University of Wyoming’s oldest structure, known today as Old Main, occupied a prominent block in the center of Laramie. The builders of Old Main established an architectural tradition that others followed as the University grew. Most of the University structures are substantial native sandstone buildings that derive their limited ornamentation from “revival” architectural styles and are typical collegiate buildings. Yet Old Main’s façade expresses an eclectic architectural tradition common to other Wyoming structures built during the late nineteenth century. In an attempt to incorporate popular architectural styles of the day, architect Fred Hale of Denver drew upon the Romanesque Revival style for details such as the rock-faced surface articulation, the original tower, and the semicircular arches, while he also relied upon Chateauesque features as expressed in the steeply pitched roof, dormers with pinnacled gables, and linteled windows. This combination of styles gives Old Main a truly distinctive appearance within the state. Old Main is the only building on campus constructed during Wyoming’s territorial period, and one of only a handful of territorial institutional buildings left standing. This public building is an impressive structure which communicates the builder’s nineteenth century desire for stability and permanence.

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources