National Register of Historic Places


Downtown Evanston Historic District

Evanston

Date Added to Register

Friday, November 25, 1983

Smithsonian Number

48UT1121

Read all about it

Evanston, located along the Union Pacific's tracks in southwest Wyoming, began as an ordinary nineteenth century boom town in 1868 and eventually became the business center for southwest Wyoming. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century until the twenties, Evanston was the major maintenance facility for the railroad between Green River, Wyoming and Ogden, Utah. The town continued to grow because coal, a necessary component for the railroad, was discovered north of Evanston in 1868. Within walking distance of the Union Pacific depot, Evanston's commercial enterprises that served local miners and railroaders grew along Front and Main Streets. The downtown became a center for commercial and governmental activities when Evanston became the county seat in 1870. Evanston's commercial area began to take on a more substantial and permanent appearance during the 1880s and 1890s as prosperous merchants constructed stores such as Ferd's Hardware and the Blyth and Fargo. Throughout the 1880s and 1890s Evanston's commercial core continued to change. Although the local coal mines for the Union Pacific began to decline after 1900, oil was soon discovered and a renewed energy boom helped to maintain Evanston's economic base.

The Federal government constructed an impressive courthouse-post office in the town. Opera, and then movie houses, located in the commercial area became a significant point for the downtown. In 1915 the town of Evanston constructed a large city hall on the edge of the commercial area. Within Evanston's compact downtown, the town hall, post office, library, and county courthouse were all located within a three block area. Agricultural, railroad, timber and energy interests helped the commercial area maintain its continued growth from 1900 to 1930. Yet, national and local economic factors brought a halt to Evanston's prosperity in the late twenties. The Union Pacific closed its maintenance facility and the worldwide depression effectively stopped Evanston's fifty years of building.

As a social, commercial and government center, downtown Evanston made significant contributions to the development of southwest Wyoming. The fine commercial and governmental structures within the district embody distinctive characteristics that are typical of a successful downtown area constructed between 1880 and 1930. The district retains many visual reminders of the town's early growth. Many buildings still have original iron fronts; others have modern facades, while the original buildings remain intact behind these coverings.

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources