BACKSTORY: The Rise And Fall Of The Gladstone (PHOTOS and Story) - Casper, WY Oil City News
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BACKSTORY: The Rise And Fall Of The Gladstone (PHOTOS and Story)

A postcard for the newly-constructed Gladstone Hotel, circa 1923. (Casper College Western History Center)

A four-page ad supplement to the Sunday, Oct. 17, 1954 edition of the Casper Tribune-Herald & Star promised an exciting new era for downtown entertainment.

“The New Sky Room offers you the ultimate in food, drinks and entertainment,” boasted the article.

Patrons could dine and drink with a spectacular view through large picture windows, all while enjoying the mellow sounds of the “best artists in show business” such as Bill Merrill and his orchestra and “The Romancers” featuring Paul and Rosalie Vincent.

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The Sky Room was the icing on the nine-floor cake of a new addition to the Gladstone Hotel on the corner of Center and First Streets.

The area was filled with grand hotels, which started to spring up during young Casper’s boom years.

The Gladstone Hotel, completed in 1923, was one of the first substantial brick buildings in Casper. The post-war boom of the 1950s brought on new optimism and business downtown, enough so that the Gladstone owners saw fit to add a brilliant modern tower to their building.

The good times were over all too soon as big motels along the new I-25 took the glory and business. Growth east of town also brought new lounges and entertainment venues.

By the late 1960s the Gladstone, along with her grand hotel mates the Henning and Townsend, was in a financial death spiral.

Newspaper clips from that era document a litany of legal claims for back pay, mortgages and auctions.

In 1970, the once-grand Gladstone was hammered to dust and rubble by the wrecking ball. The 1954 addition, however, was spared.

Without its original partner, the addition, renamed The Tower, is something of an architectural orphan. Its south facing lobby and entrance is functional but uninspired, nothing like the glory of the 1920s building.

What it still has, however, is that ninth floor. And that view.

New owners are in the process of refurbishing The Tower and are planning a new high end restaurant and bar to carry on the legacy of The Sky Room.

A photo shows the early days of Casper before construction of modern buildings. (Casper College Western History Center)
A full-page newspaper ad previews the grand opening of the Sky Room on top of the New Gladstone Hotel addition on Oct. 17, 1954. (Casper College Western History Center)
Page two of an ad supplement for the Sky Room at the New Gladstone Hotel in downtown Casper. (Casper College Western History Center)
The Crystal Room Bar in the original Gladstone Hotel building, 1937. (Casper College Western History Center)
View of Center Street with the Gladstone seen at left, likely taken from the Henning Hotel roof in the late 1920s. (Casper College Western History Center)
The Gladstone Hotel addition under construction. It opened in the fall of 1954. (Casper College Western History Center)
The Gladstone Hotel and the 1954 addition, now named The New Gladstone. (Casper College, Western History Center)
The Sky Room seen in a photo published in the Oct. 17, 1954 Casper Tribune-Herald. (Casper College Western History Center)

 

A suite in the new addition of the Gladstone Hotel, circa 1954. (Casper College Western History Center)
Center Street is seen in the mid-1950s, with the new Gladstone addition center right. (Wyoming State Archives)
Demolition of the original section of the Gladstone Hotel, 1970. (Casper College Western History Center)
Demolition of the original section of the Gladstone Hotel, 1970. (Casper College Western History Center)
A July 26, 1970 Casper Star-Tribune clip at Casper College’s library tells the story of Mrs. E. N. (Celia) Miller, who according to the paper designed the original Gladstone Hotel with her husband, Elias Miller. The Gladstone was in the process of being demolished when the paper talked to Mrs. Miller, who was living in the Ada Apartments on Center St. Mrs. Miller had a few snarky thing to say about other buildings (“It annoys me,” is what she had to say about what’s now the Wells Fargo building). On the demoliton of the original Gladstone she said, “It makes me kind of blue.” (Western History Center Casper College)
The former Sky Room as it is now. Note the ceiling features, which marks where the musical entertainment would stand. The Tower, formally an addition to the Gladstone Hotel, is in the process of renovation under new ownership. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
The ninth floor of The Tower was originally named Sky Room when it opened in 1954. Bands would play on a stage under the ceiling effect at right. It was converted into a disco in the 70s and has sat vacant since around 1981. It will eventually be the centerpiece of The Tower’s renovation. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Mirrors on a column are about all that survives of the disco era in the former Sky Room. The disco operated under the name Studio 9 until around 1981. The top floor has been empty since then, while the rest of the building was used for offices until a couple of years ago. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
The Townsend Justice Center is seen through the fogged glass of the old Sky Room in The Tower recently. The Townsend building is the only survivor of the 1920s-era grand hotel buildings around First and Center. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
The Sky Room in The Tower recently. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
A vintage light fixture dangles from the ceiling of the former Sky Room in downtown Casper recently. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
A detail of paint design on the walls of the Sky Room recently in The Tower. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
The relay panel in the elevator room is original equipment. A new elevator will be installed along with multiple other systems upgrades. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
The basement of the original Gladstone Hotel survives under the parking lot of The Tower. An doorway leads to a wall at the end of the room. According to Steve Gibson, co-owner and supervisor of The Tower’s restoration, the door led to one of Casper’s rumored underground tunnels. Whatever it was has long been filled in. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
The basement of the old Gladstone Hotel is all that survives of the grand building since its demolition in 1970. It was used for additional storage for The Tower, the Gladstone’s 1954 addition. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Vintage tile from the original Gladstone Hotel is still visible in the basement of The Tower. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
A stairwell that led to the old Gladstone Hotel lobby now leads to nothing. After the building was demolished in 1970, a parking lot for The Tower office building was put in its place. The original basement is still under the lot and connected to The Tower’s basement. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Original hotel bathrooms still survive in some of the rooms in The Tower. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
A corner of a former hotel room that was used as office space in The Tower. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
The hall of the 8th floor of The Tower, formally an addition to the Gladstone Hotel. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
The Tower building on First and Center is in the process of a complete renovation by new owners. Originally built as an addition to the Gladstone Hotel, it was used as an office building for decades before closing completely a couple of years ago. The original Gladstone Hotel was demolished in 1970. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)