SHERIDAN — A walk through Sheridan’s historic district has been known to stir the curiosity of locals and tourists alike, and the Downtown Sheridan Association is making it easier than ever to satiate inquiring minds.
The DSA has assigned Quick Response codes to historic buildings that enable anyone with a smartphone to instantly access historical information about downtown structures.
QR Codes are digital symbols that look like a “salt and pepper fight” postage stamp. The square boxes work similar to a bar code, and immediately direct users to a relevant website when scanned by a smartphone. To access the downtown walking tour and various other information links in magazines, on business signs and on consumer products, a cellphone user has to download the free “Scan” application from the Application Store. When the app is up and running, the screen acts similar to a camera until it finds, focuses and recognizes the QR code presented. Then, it immediately takes the user to the directed website.
DSA Executive Director Stacie Coe said QR codes are now posted outside approximately 70 buildings downtown to allow tech-savvy tourists and locals to have instant access to the past.
“A lot of the buildings downtown tell such great stories,” Coe said.
Examples of historical tidbits available via the tour:
• Passersby may already have guessed from the Romanesque architecture that the building that currently houses Sanford’s Pub and Grub, built in 1893, used to be an opera house. However, few know the building once had a third floor, but it burned down in 1906. Ironically, the fire started during a performance entitled “The Runaway Match.”
• The big arches around the entrance to the Beaver Creek Saloon were made wide so horses and fire wagons could pass through. The location was not only a fire station at one point, but also a police station that had an easily escapable jail in back.
• The building that houses Hospital Pharmacy is the oldest on Main Street, and is the only building that still has a false front.
• A woman shot her would-be sister-in-law in the building that now houses Java Moon and Over the Moon Nov. 1, 1926. Geneva Collett was sentenced to life in prison for the crime.
The concept for the walking tour was piloted via a printed brochure put out by the DSA in 2010, but now the same information is readily available at the impulse of a curious shopper with a cell phone.
“The exciting thing about QR codes is if you’re a visitor to the community, you don’t have to know there’s a downtown waking tour brochure,” said Melissa Butcher of PB Communications, who tailored the walking tour guide for optimal viewing on a mobile device.
Butcher said the QR codes have expanded beyond the original tour of Main Street, and new histories were collected by speaking with previous building owners, longtime Sheridan residents and research in the Wyoming Room at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library.
While the buildings have been identified, Coe said she hopes the community will flesh out the information with their own recollections.
“Because it’s not as static as a printed brochure, we want people to share their experiences,” she said. “It’s an evolving website.”
Coe said the historical tour can be accessed on a home computer as well by following the link to the downtown walking tour from the DSA website. There, visitors can leave memories, comments and historical tidbits of their own in the comment section below individual location links.
“If people know information about a building we don’t have, we would like them to go online or call the DSA so we can add it,” Butcher said. “We know there are folks in town that have memories about the history of buildings that haven’t been captured.”
The placement of QR codes at historic buildings downtown began last week, and all buildings are expected to be marked soon.