In August of 2019, Laramie Main Street, a non-profit focused on the economic and social vitality of downtown Laramie, was gifted the historic Wyo Theater. As the new stewards of this building, Main Street is working with partners at the University of Wyoming, City of Laramie, and local arts and cultural organizations to explore the feasibility of what it will take to rehabilitate the building as an asset for the community.
The Wyo Theater at 309 S. 5th Street was built in 1925 with a brick façade as the Crown Theater. It was remodeled in 1950 by Denver architect Charles Dunwoody Strong using streamline modern “Art Deco” details. For most of its life, it was run as a single screen movie theater. Many Laramie residents, students and alumni have fond memories of seeing their first movie at the Wyo. As single screen theaters struggled to compete with new multiplexes, the Wyo struggled. For a short time, it was the only venue in town for indie, art house, and Oscar nominated films. Unfortunately; the theater has been closed to the public for the past five years.
Shuttered, the theater needs considerable work to safety allow new, mixed use programming to occur. From a new roof, to upgrades to the electrical, a fire suppression system and ADA accessibility, it will take considerable time and resources to restore the Wyo.
Thanks to a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, Laramie Main Street will be creating a plan to restore the façade of the building. In August 2020, Megin Rux of MBX Architecture, LLC and Nicole Lane of Martin/Martin Wyoming were hired to complete the following tasks:
- Documentation of existing exterior conditions including historic materials and structural stability
- Create renderings to be reviewed by the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service to ensure the project scope is in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards
- Complete a construction scope of work with cost estimates
This scope of work will allow Laramie Main Street to apply for a National Park Service Main Street Façade Improvement Grant Program to restore the Wyo’s façade. Main Street Façade grants are up to $25,000 per project, to building or business owners in 12 rural Main Street America communities including Laramie, Rock Springs, and Thermopolis, Wyoming. For more information, visit: www.mainstreet.org/ourwork/projectspotlight/facadeimprovements/npsgrant
For more about the rehabilitation of the Wyo Theater, contact Trey Sherwood, Director, Laramie Main Street at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-760-3355.
Fans of the Wyo can take a 360 tour of the building here: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=wzKSu86vh98