Hidden In Plain(s) Sight: 1920s Car Dealership Found At Former Furniture Store
The idea was simple, but controversial.
Last year, the City of Casper spent $3 million -- over some protests the price was way over appraised value and a lot of money for a city in a budget crisis -- to buy the Plains Furniture building in the 300 block of South David Street and demolish it for a parking lot.
Tuesday, the reality got complicated, but maybe not so controversial.
Parking, after all, is at a premium as the Old Yellowstone District grows and the David Street Station a half-block away attracts visitors.
"Originally the council was talking about tearing this entire building down," Mayor Kenyne Humphrey said.
Not now, Humphrey said. "We did not realize that there really was another beautiful piece of history encapsulated in this."
Local residents have already seen what happened with the renovation of 321 Art, Racca's and The Gaslight Social.
This could be bigger.
Those doing some initial preparation work for the demolition found painted and unpainted brick walls, hanging industrial light fixtures, iron trusses, thick steel and wooden beams, and undamaged roof planks.
Downstairs, a concrete room done in spare mid-century-modern-bomb-shelter decor once served as a storeroom for the car parts department and later a furniture storage room.
So Tuesday, council members and those interested in old buildings glimpsed some of the history beneath the drywall and above the drop-down ceiling tiles.
The 1920s-era building was the home of the Nolan Chevrolet Co., and other businesses before it became the furniture store.
Council members and the public looked at old photos, pointed and shined flashlights and touched 90-year-old Casper history. Members of the Schulte family, which later bought the car company, shared a few memories.
These revelations followed another discovery of the entrance to the former Municipal Garage next to the city's original fire station just north of the furniture store.
The city now has some decisions to make, Humphrey said.
"It did come to light very recently that there may be kind of a prize underneath the Plains building," Humphrey said. "We're going to go back and talk about it, but I suspect council's going to want to preserve any kind of history of Casper that they can."