Thursday, June 26, 2008

Natrona Transfer & Storage Company

Natrona Storage & Moving Company was a moving and storage company that dated back many decades. Their substantial building was built just off of the Burlington Northern Railroad, which made for easy shipping in the days when the company relied upon horse drawn wagons to move freight.

This building was in use up until quite recently, although it apparently no longer is being used. In recent years, as the "Allied" sign indicates, the company engaged in interstate moving, as well as local moving and storage.
This photograph was added those above were posted. This photos shows the railroad sidetrack that once served this building.

The painted signs on this building are, in fact, no longer there. Since the original photographs were taken, the building was substantially overhauled and no remnant of the original signs now exists.

Ayres Jewelry

This building is painted with the name of Ayres jewelry. It is perhaps an unusual example, in that Ayres, a very long lasting Casper business, is still in business and is still located at this location, although it has also expanded into a neighboring building. Ayres also has an old fashion sidewalk clock out in front of the building, although it is not visible in the photographs.

In some ways, this photo demonstrates how a well run business is timeless. The business has been in business, in this location, for decades.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Jersey Creamery Inc.

This sign was the business sign for the Jersey Creamery, which was located downtown, near the railroad.

Our grandfather/great grandfather, owned one of the creamery's here in town, which supplied milk to residents and stores. The milk was delivered by milkmen. Unfortunately, we are not certain if this was the one he owned, or if a different one existed in a location that is some distance away. As we cannot recall more than one creamery existing at the same time, this one is probably it.

H-C Ranchwear

The signs on this building are particularly difficult to read, as the building is so close to a much newer building housing a movie theater. The sign for "H-C Ranchwear" is visible, along with part of a business name indicating that the store was a "Supply". I have it in mind that this store was a hardware, ranch supply store, but do not know for certain. It has not housed such a store for many years.

Gustavsen's Garage

This building was built in 1921 and has served a variety of businesses over the years. The signs that remain show the various uses. On the east side of the school is a sign for Great Northern Tool and Supply which apparently had an entrance from the side or the back of the building. The west side of the building advertises a business that stored for sold furs.

In addition to these businesses, for many years this building has been used as an automotive repair facility. This started many years ago, perhaps as long ago as the 1920s or 1930s. It was operated as Gustavsen's Garage for a long period of time, and up until very recently, the painted Gustavsen's sign was clearly visible of the front of the building. The building, which is being renovated to include an automobile museum, in addition to an automotive repair has recently been sandblasted, and the Gustavsen's sign is now gone.

Also of note here, Wyatt's Garage, which was a classically styled gas station. Today it is a tire store, but it was build as a full service gasoline station at this location, which was on the Yellowstone Highway. Another classically styled building across the street was a Lincoln-Mercury dealer for many years, prior to the dealership moving across town. The combination of these buildings gives a good glimpse at what the West Yellowstone Highway District looked like in its heyday, prior to being bypassed by more modern highways.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters

These photographs are of Lou Taubert's Ranch Outfitters, a long time Casper business. The buisiness sells clothing, and as the signs demonstrate, also sells tack and related items. In other words it is, as the sign indicates, a ranch outfitter.

The signs painted on the building are quite large and have been on it for decades. Unfortunately,they are not easy to photograph, given neighboring buildings and street lights. The paintings exist on three of the buildings four sides, including the back of the building, as the bottom photograph demonstrates.

This business is a going concern, and is fully up and running in its long time business. The signs on the side of the building appear quite fresh in comparison to the others depicted here, as they are still occasionally repainted. It has been in this location for decades, but the "1919" referred to does not refer to this store, but the original store in Ft. Laramie, Wyoming.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Wonder Bar

These photographs are of the "World Famous" Wonder Bar. The Wonder Bar has operated on Center Street for decades, although it has had short periods of time in recent years in which it operated under a different name (Tommy Knockers, Dillingers, and very briefly, "Sludge and Eddies"). Still, the bar has been around so long that even efforts to operate it under a different name do not deter the locals from continuing to refer to it as the Wonder Bar.

Downtown Casper once had a vast number of bars. This are of downtown had multiple bars on a single block. Only the Wonder Bar survives as a bar.

At some point in time, decades ago, Lee Riders paid to paint an advertisement on the side of the bar. The sign is still there, although an effort to paint over it was made at some point. This reflects the stockman heritage of central Wyoming, and indeed at one time quite a few cowboys and sheepherders spent time in the Wonder Bar.

Bowen's Sporting Goods

For many years, this was Bowens Sporting Goods. The building now houses an Orvis store. When it was Bowens, however, it was one of two major, all sports, sporting goods stores in downtown Casper. When it went out of business in the late 80s, the final sale featured everything from tennis supplies to rifle stocks. Bush Wells, the other major downtown sporting goods store, is depicted and mentioned in the entry below.

The Wonder Bar, which is featured in an entry immediately above, is also visible in this photograph.

Bush Wells

This photograph depicts the sign for Bush Wells Sporting goods. Bush Wells is a longstanding Casper sporting goods store which is still located in downtown Casper, but not at this location. It is now several blocks to the south.

This building, as our flagship photo shows, has had other businesses in it at various times. The painted sign for one of these buildings is barely visible below the Bush Wells sign. Today, a lighting supply house occupies this building.

The Townsend Building (A. J. Woods)

This is a sign advertising the Woods For Men clothing store, on the side of the Townsend Building (not to be confused with the Townsend Hotel). I don't know the vintage of this sign, located on what is now a bookstore on the 100 block of South Center Street. I don't recall Woods ever being in this location, although it was once located nearly directly across the street. Apparently when it was in this location, the business was called "A. J. Woods". The Townsend Building itself was built in 1905, bricked over some time after that, and then later concreted over, as we now see it.

This sign was painted on the brick in a stylish manner, prior to the building being concreted over. The concrete has chipped off within the past few years, exposing the old painting.

Kistler Tent & Awning.

This is a sign painted on the former location of Kistler Tent & Awning Company. Kistler Tent & Awning still exits, but in a different location.

This photo provides a good example of why we have started this website. The sign, located on a building which is still in central downtown, advertises services that were important in the area at the time the sign was painted. Sheepwagon covers, Herders "Tepees" and Lambing tents were all significant items for Sheep ranching, which was a major industry in the region well in to the 1970s. Ranching is still a significant industry, but the sheep industry has greatly declined.

As an addition to this, I recently noticed that this building, which I'd consider the old Western Book Store building, has this Kistler logo in the cement.  Obviously this was the storefront for Kistler Tent and Awning. An interesting thing is that the photos on the bricks depicted above are not on the same building, but an adjoining one.  Either Kistler leased the sign space or, probably more likely, it occupied several adjoining buildings at this time.

It's interesting to note that at one time, this business was right on center street, not in a semi industrial part of town, as we'd expect today.  That probably says something about how important the sheep cover industry was at the time.  The building we are referencing is the one that has the sign noting that it sold gifts and cards, which as a book store it did.  In my memory, this building was always a book store, although it no longer is.

The Townsend Hotel

This is the Townsend Hotel, in Casper. The building was built as a substantial, modern hotel, in the 1920s, but fell into disrepair and dilapidation by the late 1970s. It's a classic example of a typical midwestern mid 20th Century hotel. It features prominently in many pre 1950 photographs, as viable in our flagship photo above.

This building was abandoned in the early 1980s, but it is currently under renovation and is being converted to a courthouse for Natrona County. The project has been somewhat controversial, and efforts to expand courthouse facilities in general have not been popular with the voters in the county, who rejected tax levies for the project. The existing 1930s vintage courthouse is across the street, but is not featured here, as it doesn't fit within this blog's mission.

This sign advertises not only the hotel, but the cafe. The cafe in the hotel was one of the last things operating in it, and was still in use up until the early 80s. Where the large excavation is in these photographs, there was once a private club, the Petroleum Club, which could be accessed through the hotel. The Petroleum Club still exists, but moved out of this location over twenty years ago.

In the historic photos, showing the Townsend in its heyday, this view would not have been possible. A Greek revival style office building, The Sinclair Building, would have blocked the view. It was removed in the early 1990s.

Welcome to Painted Bricks

This blog exists as a format to publish photo of buildings in Casper, Wyoming, although it is possible some other interesting buildings from around the state will be published here as well.

The concept here was to memorialize, originally on a website we never got around to, photographs of buildings here in town that still retained painted brick sides. These were once very common in nearly every American city, but over time, have fallen very much out of favor. Some such paintings can constitute real artwork, in and of themselves, but most of them simply amount to advertising of a certain distinct, historical, style.

As time goes on, these paintings fade, are painted over, or sandblasted away. Indeed, there are fewer of them now, than when we first thought of this idea about a year ago. Sometimes, even efforts to save the "historic appearance" of a building can destroy them, as the new owners sandblast them off to return the building to its "original look".

None of these signs amount to anything of great historic interest. But they are artifacts of another era, and we hope you enjoy them.