A business traveler works on his computer in the sunlit dining room of The Plains Hotel in Cheyenne. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr./WyoFile)

Opened in 1911, The Plains Hotel has been a landmark in Cheyenne ever since.

City business boosters, including Sen. Francis E. Warren, built the five-story building to keep Cheyenne up with the times. They selected William Dubois, an architect schooled in Chicago whose imprint stretches across Wyoming, as their mastermind.

Drawing from a boom sparked by the ground-clearing Chicago fire of 1871, cheap steel, Elisha Otis’ elevator and an innovative, bustling economy, the Chicago aesthetic changed the face of that city and others across the country. Practitioners of the Chicago School of Architecture discipline shucked neoclassical convention to embrace a new paradigm.

The Plains Hotel lobby, complete with tile and marble accents and a striking two-story chamber illuminated by a skylight, recalls the soaring interior vertical spaces pioneered and celebrated in the Second City’s revival. 

A 1936 remodeling brought in Thomas Molesworth furniture, including in the Wigwam bar.

A book published by current owner Astride A Starship, LLC, documents the succession of owners who hosted countless movers and shakers. Harry P. Hynds ran The Plains for many years and was responsible for the hotel logo depicting Arapaho Chief Little Shield.

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Hynds had J.E. Stimpson photograph Chief Little Shield, an image copied by portrait painter Helen Benko Lillywhite for the hotel in 1928. The painting disappeared for 20 years before one-time hotel owner Alvin Wiederspahn secured it from a private collector and returned it to the establishment. The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at angus@wyofile.com or (307)...

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  1. When I was a kid my dad served in the House of Representatives,on behalf of Sublette County, and my sisters and I would ride the train from Rock Springs to Cheyenne for a visit while he and my mom were there for the legislative session. “The Plains” is where everything happened in those days, and I remember the elevators with the metal gates, the restaurant, the parquet floors, all of the above. A delightful place. Nothing matches it.

  2. I used to work here in the Historical Plains Motel for a while, before I went back to work for Majestic Properties LLC and the Historical Majestic Bldg! I am truly blessed indeed and thankful for our USA ?? Wyoming.. And enjoy History!

  3. You could write an entertaining history of Wyoming state government through the lens of the motels and hotels where legislators stayed and reconvened evenings during the session. The Hitching Post, of course, with its once-raucous bar and the mountain of shrimp at Paul’s pre-session parties; Little America, where many legislators moved as the Hitching Post declined; and the aged Plains, where a few stalwarts held on (and held forth in the bar).