Once deemed the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco, the Sheridan Inn opened its doors May 27, 1893. Today, visitors can walk the same porch from which William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, once the inn’s owner, frequently conducted auditions for his Wild West Shows on the front lawn, offering the visiting train passengers a taste of the West from their windows.
As one of the first Western hotels with running water and electricity, the Sheridan Inn quickly became a favorite stop for passersby. Notable among the hotel’s guests was Ernest Hemingway, who labored over “A Farewell to Arms” in the late 1920s.
However, as passenger trains grew less popular and cars became the preferred mode of transportation, the inn’s business began to dwindle. By 1965, it was bankrupt. The inn was given new hope when Neltje, a local abstract artist and philanthropist, began a campaign to save the historic building in 1967.
After almost 50 tumultuous years of opening and closings, the Sheridan Inn was reopened in 1990 by the Sheridan Heritage Center, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that owned the inn and began renovating the hotel’s rooms.
In 2008, the nonprofit board decided to borrow $1.8 million from Wyoming Bank and Trust in Cheyenne, as part of what was believed to be a final push to finish the renovation of the inn.
The loan was to be paid off through the issuance of revenue bonds.
But, the downturn in the economy left the nonprofit with unaffordable monthly loan payments, short of the money to finish the inn and facing ongoing operational and maintenance costs.
In the late summer of 2012, the inn was foreclosed on and put up for sale. In 2013, Bob and Dana Townsend, a couple with numerous family ties to the Sheridan community, purchased the historic structure.
The Townsends have quickly gotten to work trying to finish the mission started by the nonprofit Sheridan Heritage Center. Work has begun to finish the rooms on the second and third floors of the building. Owners said they hope to have some of the rooms available for rental in June.
In the meantime, the inn is open for events and banquets. The Townsends have also said they are in talks to provide a family friendly restaurant within the inn that would be open to the public.
For more information on the inn or to follow the renovation project, find the Historic Sheridan Inn on Facebook or visit WWW.SHERIDANINN.COM.