The Historic Plains Hotel is celebrating 100 years of providing hospitality in Downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming and is the official headquarters and sponsor of the Cheyenne International Film Festival. Saturday night May 21st at the Atlas Theatre, a big Plains Hotel centennial celebration takes place copresented by the CFD Old West Museum and the Hands Across the Saddle founded by Wilford Brimley and his wife Beverly.
What follows is an account by Dazee Bristol, a pioneer woman of Cheyenne who died in 1983 at the age of 105. She wrote a feature story about the grand opening of the Plains Hotel. She was one of the guests present at the occasion on March 11, 1911. She recounts in her own, colorful language how the hotel came into being and some of the highlights of the grand opening.
By Dazee Bristol
The history of the building of the Plains Hotel, though short, is interesting. At the annual $1 dinner of the Industrial Club (now Chamber of Commerce) in December of 1909 – Thomas Heaney, President of the club, interrupted the regular business trend to give his opinion, in a joking way, that Cheyenne was in need of a new up-to-date hotel – that the Inter Ocean was outmoded and had its day as the leading hotel of our city. He appointed Dr. H.N. Bennett to see that the city should have a new hotel and the physician accepted the task.
During the month of February 1910, an announcement was made that the Cheyenne Securities Company had been organized for the intention of erecting a new hotel. The officers of this company were Senator Francis E. Warren, T.A. Cosgriff, Dr. H.N. Bennett, Fred Warren and William Dubois, the architect. William Dubois made several sets of plans for the hotel from which those of the present building were chosen.
One month later the contract was awarded for the erection of the hotel at a cost in the neighborhood of $200,000, which together with the furniture installed raised the cost to more than a quarter of a million dollars. Construction started June 1910.
March 9, 1911, scarcely more than a year after the Industrial Club dinner, the Plains Hotel — one of the most elaborately furnished hostelries in the entire West — opened to hotel patrons.
Grand and imposing in appearance, magnificient [sic] in its appointment and furnishings. Modern to the smallest detail. Men in full evening dress and gorgeaously [sic] gowned women. Also gallant Army Officers and their handsomely gowned ladies — all tripped the light fantastic until wee hours of the morning, in the lobby, to the strains of the Plains Trio – composed of Susan Cahill, at the piano, Marie Buchanan, violin, and Roy Henderson, drums.
Frank Gore was chosen Chief Clerk of the hotel — J.D. Pruitt, Auditor; Mr. Nicodemus, manager, famous for his catering ability, having received his training with the Harvey House System and was instructed by them with the opening of the Union Station Hotel in St. Louis.
The Plains Hotel is a full five stories high with full basement. This includes hotel proper, and offices and first floor storerooms. There are three entrances – one on 16th Street, one on Central, and one on Capitol Ave., also three elevators.
The lobby is in the center of the grand floor and receives its day light through a mission art panel skylight. Brilliantly lighted at night by numerous lights shedding soft rays of light from heavy brass fixtures. The floor is tile and mahogany and genuine leather furniture graces the room. The stairway leading from the lobby is of marble and steel. A roomy alcove on Central Avenue side is the CigarStand, managed by Clara Frey. The bar of the lobby is regal in its gleaming plate glass and mahogany. Across from the bar is the famous Indian Grill Room and Cocktail lounge — a mecca for the unconventional.
There’s a Mezzanine Floor where the Plains Orchestra holds forth and comfy lounges and seats where guests may rest and enjoy themselves. Off the Mezzanine Floor is the Tea Room with its lovely drapes and dainty tables, awaiting mi-lady. Also off the Mezzanine is a huge Ladies Rest Room.
The hotel boasts 100 sleeping rooms with gorgeaous [sic] velvet carpets, exquisite draperies, comfy chairs and colonial style furnishings. Nearly all rooms have baths and ALL have telephones.
The basement features public toilets, ten sample rooms and storage. The new hotel will be conducted on European Plan.
Built in 1911, the historic Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming, features 131 beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites, allowing guests to experience the spirit of the west in elegant style. Professionally operated by Providence Hospitality Partners, LLC in Denver, Colorado. For more information, call 866-2PLAINS (866-275-2467) or 307-638-3311, or visit www.theplainshotel.com