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)

There was a time when the intersection of First and Center Streets in downtown Casper was known for classy cocktail bars and live music.

Some of that tradition could very well return.

The area was once dominated by Casper’s grand hotels, which all competed for patrons with their own restaurants, bars and lounges. By the late 1960s, the downtown hotels were given a death blow with the construction of I-25, along with new lounges and entertainment further east of town.

The Tower, built in 1954, was originally an addition to the Gladstone Hotel on the corner of First and Center. That 1923-era building was demolished in 1970, leaving its forlorn addition awkwardly standing alone.

The Gladstone Hotel addition is seen under construction in the early-1950s. It opened under much fanfair in 1954. The original building on the corner was demolished in 1970, leaving the addition to stand alone as an office tower. (Casper College Western History Center)

For decades The Tower served as an office building with a restaurant on the first floor. Slowly deteriorating and losing tenants, the building sat empty for a couple of years before new investors took control last May.

“We will redesign it, we do want to keep its character,” said project manager Steve Gibson.

Gibson is a partner in the group of owners, with businessman Marvin Piel as the main investor.

The nine-story building features a funky midcentury vibe, and most notable a spectacular glass-enclosed top floor that overlooks Casper.

“There’s nowhere else in Wyoming where you’ll sit and have dinner and a view like this, it doesn’t exist,” said Gibson. “This floor is why we bought this building.”

The view towards Casper Mountain seen through the old, fogged glass in the former Sky Room in The Tower. The windows will be replaced with modern glass. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Empty since the early ’80s, the ninth floor was originally called the Sky Lounge and featured a bar, stage and window seating.

It was eventually converted into a disco of sorts and covered in mirrors, which have mostly been removed. The distinctive ceiling design above the stage survives.  The owners are trying to decide if it can be saved and integrated into the new design. New windows will also be installed.

“We want this to be a real dining experience,” said Gibson.

The first phase of the project is well underway, which mainly involves bringing the mechanics up to date. Brand new electricity has been completed, a new heating system installed and a new elevator is in the works.

The bottom floor, which most recently was the Mountain View sandwich shop, is in the process of gutting and converting into a lounge and sandwich shop. The owners were granted a full liquor license for the building, giving them the option to offer alcohol in all of the social areas they have planned.

Gibson hopes to have the first floor sandwich shop and bar open by June 1. He expects the rest of the building to take shape over the next couple of years.

“I do want to make sure that we keep something that connects it back to what it used to be,” said Gibson of the building’s redesign.

Things are coming full circle some 50 years after the start of downtown’s decline. “It’s quite a move, that’s one of the reasons we decided to do this,” said Gibson. “Most downtowns die, if you go out anywhere in the country you see them hurting. I think over the next few years you’ll see a pretty good surge down here.”

The bottom floor of The Tower, which was most recently home to Mountain View Sub Shop, is in the process of a gut rehab and conversion into a new bar and sandwich shop. (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)