Downtown Cody Historic District
Date Added to Register
Monday, August 15, 1983
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Downtown Cody Historic District contains historically significant buildings primarily dating from 1900 to the 1930s. Basically a rather small district encompassing only a few blocks along Sheridan Avenue, the Cody buildings are typical of other commercial structures built in Wyoming during the same period. Yet the sandstone buildings constructed of locally quarried materials lend the district a distinctive western character. The sandstone and brick detailing of the facades represent a simple stylistic approach to commercial design. Today, the buildings in the Downtown Cody Historic District represent a prosperous commercial area that grew in northern Wyoming at the turn of the century.
Diverse governmental and economic factors helped to assure the town of continued growth and success. William F. ''Buffalo Bill'' Cody used his money and influence to encourage agricultural and commercial development in the Big Horn Basin starting in the 1890s. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Federal reclamation projects provided thousands of acres of farmland in the region surrounding Cody. As ranchers prospered, the town incorporated in 1901 and became the heart of commercial activity for the area. The success of local merchants helped to bring the railroad and municipal improvements to the town early in its development. Cody became the center for local governmental facilities in 1910 when it was established as the Park County seat. The discovery of oil in Elk Basin north of Cody in 1915 gave the town a new industry. During the teens and twenties, agriculture continued to play a dominant role in Cody's growth but the influence of tourist dollars diversified and strengthened Cody's economic base. In 1915 a road constructed between the town and Yellowstone National Park's east entrance permanently affected Cody's development. The popularity of dude ranches and automobile travel beginning in the twenties helped to assure Cody's continued stability. Today, the buildings in Cody's historic district are still the heart of the commercial area and the solid brick and stone buildings physically illustrate the economic successes of Cody's early years.