The Gladstone Hotel and the 1954 addition, now named The New Gladstone. (Casper College, Western History Center)
CASPER, Wyo. — The concrete nine-story tower at First and Center Street in downtown Casper had been out of the spotlight for decades until a proposal to convert the building into affordable transitional housing was floated by City Council recently.
When it was first completed in 1954, however, it was billed as the hottest new attraction in a bustling downtown area.
The tower was constructed as a modern addition to the elegant 1922-built Gladstone, which stood tall among two other big downtown hotels and a smattering of smaller ones in the centralized area.
To stand out, the owners built a glass-walled restaurant and nightclub at the top story, offering striking views of the city and Casper Mountain.
When it first opened for business, 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.
The good times didn’t last long, however. By the mid-60s, the nightlife action was moving to newer spots around town. When the 300-room Ramada Inn complex opened near the new Interstate 25, Casper grand downtown hotels were left to struggle and deteriorate.
Of the original historic downtown hotels, only the Townsend Hotel survives, now converted into the Townsend Justice Center after years of neglect.
The original Gladstone Hotel was demolished in 1970, leaving the relatively new addition awkwardly converted into a standalone office building. The Sky Room survived a number of incarnations, the last being a disco before permanently closing in the early 1980s. Parts of the original Sky Room interior still survived into 2018.
Inside, the hotel’s mid-century–tiled bathrooms and hotel layouts survive to this day. The elevator is out of code, along with much of the building’s systems.
An effort to revive the building and its once-spectacular top floor Sky Room in 2018 also fizzled, leaving a fascinating piece of Casper downtown history to still sit idle, awaiting its time to shine yet again.