Without a doubt, Sheridan’s history is part of our community’s essence. After all, you can’t drive past the historic Sheridan Inn and not imagine Buffalo Bill auditioning riders, ropers and sharp shooters for his famed Wild West Show from the inn’s large front porch.
But the Sheridan Inn is only part of the history woven into the tapestry — or should I say, twisted into the twine — of daily life in Sheridan. Our community boasts 10 sites that are on the National Register of Historic Places and our Main Street and Railroad Historic Districts bring added value aesthetically and in the piggybank.
In fact, historic preservation has been a boon across the Mountain West. For example, the Utah Heritage Foundation found that more than 7,300 jobs were created annually, directly or indirectly, by tourism related to the state’s heritage. Similarly, historic preservation has generated more than $4 billion in direct and indirect economic impacts, added more than $2 billion to state gross domestic product, and created nearly 30,000 jobs in Colorado since 1981, according to a report prepared by Colorado Preservation, Inc. and funded by the History Colorado State Historical Fund.
Here in Sheridan, there’s ample opportunity for building and business owners to reap the benefit of our community’s history while making our home an even more charming place to live. How can you do that? Downtown Sheridan Association is here to help with a step-by-step guide.
1. Understand the history of your building. Learn the approximate date, style of architecture and original materials used in construction and the sequence of subsequent building alterations. The Sheridan County Museum and DSA are great sources for this information. In addition, DSA has an extensive inventory of historical photographs of downtown buildings.
2. Carefully follow historic preservation guidelines. These are a collection of best practices and design principles to help you determine the best path to take in your renovation, improvements or new construction. They’ll help you maintain the historic integrity of your building and help you understand what type of products fit and do not fit with the history of your building.
3. Plan your rehabilitation to relate the historical design of the building. You’ll want to seek as much advice as possible prior to your renovation.
Think of this step as “measure twice, cut once,” rather than “ready, fire, aim.” Again, DSA is here to help, with a treasure trove of local knowledge and access to professional services that can make your historical rehabilitation, well, historic.
Renovations of any kind can be pricey. Thankfully, DSA, as part of the Main Street Program, can help you defray expenses through tax credits, grants and low-interest loans that can make your historical preservation project possible. Beyond that, local organizations like the Sheridan Community Land Trust can hold historic preservation easements. Such easements can be tailored to meet your project’s needs and will provide an additional tax benefit.
If you’d like to know more about historic preservation, please contact the Downtown Sheridan Association by calling 307-672-8881, online at downtownsheridan.org or by visiting the office at 121 S. Main St. You can learn more about historic preservation easements through the Sheridan Community Land Trust by calling 307-673-4702, online at sheridanclt.org or by visiting the office upstairs at 52 S. Main St.
Chris Vrba is director of marketing and development for Sheridan Community Land Trust and serves on the Downtown Sheridan Association Design Committee, which focuses on historic preservation.