SHERIDAN — Four-year-old Kamryn Carden was more concerned about playing with toys than being a part of history.
The daughter of K.C. and Candice Carden was jumping up and down with excitement in the lobby of the Sheridan Inn after being promised there would be lots of space to play with toys. Meanwhile, K.C. and Candice waited patiently for 3 p.m. to arrive.
K.C. Carden just smiled at his daughter.
“When she grows older, it will be good for her to understand that she was a part of history,” he said.
For a girl that young, though, it’s hard to understand the significance of the moment. The last time guests checked into the Historic Sheridan Inn, her parents were still years away from being born. Yet she was about to usher in a new era for one of Sheridan’s landmarks.
After years of construction, foreclosures and renovations, the Sheridan Inn finally opened its doors to overnight guests. At exactly 3 p.m. on Friday, the Cardens of Sheridan were the first to check into the Historic Sheridan Inn in more than 50 years.
Maybe the only person in the lobby that day more thrilled than the four-year-old was her father, who was all smiles underneath his cowboy hat while checking in at the front desk.
“We are just happy that the owners happened to be in town and saw that this was for sale and put something together to make history come back,” Carden said.
Sitting in the lobby underneath the walls decorated with old black and white photographs of Sheridan’s past, majority owner of the Historic Sheridan Inn Bob Townsend was basking in the excitement of the grand opening.
“It’s like crossing the finish line; the checkered flag has been waved,” Townsend said. “We’ve accomplished what we have set out to do a year and a half ago.”
Townsend and his crews have been working to restore the hotel’s lodging accommodations ever since, reducing the number of rooms in the hotel from 65 to 22 while making modern renovations to the building constructed in 1883.
Of all of the themed rooms available at the Sheridan Inn, in Carden’s mind, there was only one choice. To commemorate one of the oldest lodging establishments in the state, they chose room 307 — labeled as the “Rough Rider” room — which honored President Theodore Roosevelt, a former a patron of the Sheridan Inn more than 100 years ago.
“Our daughter… it’s good for her to come here and learn about the history of the building,” Carden said. “There’s not too many people who can say they’ve stayed in the same hotel as (President Theodore Roosevelt).”
The Inn’s grand reopening also drew Mildred Halsey from Spearfish, South Dakota, who was the second guest to check into the hotel. Originally from Sheridan, Halsey was a former employee at the Historic Sheridan Inn who worked as the head hostess at the restaurant in the hotel nearly 35 years ago.
Halsey was headed to Lander for a graduation ceremony when she found out her trip coincided with the grand opening of the hotel.
“I am just so excited it’s opening back up,” Halsey said. “I am really thrilled to be here.”
While the grand reopening drew primarily tourists looking to be a part of the first wave of guests in the newly-constructed building, Townsend said he is looking to attract regional businesses to use the Inn as a retreat or space for conferences. They plan to expand their facilities to include boardrooms and other facilities to cater to large groups.
But like it always has, the Historic Sheridan Inn will always be available for those who need a place to lay their head after a long journey.
“We understand how significant this property is to this community,” Townsend said. “We believe this property can be a destination for people to come from (this region) … to draw people in to stay the night and spend money here in Sheridan. I think this property can have a very key role to tourism in Sheridan.”