Watch List: Wyoming State Hospital, Evanston

The Alliance for Historic Wyoming Watch List brings statewide attention to historic properties in
Wyoming that are currently threatened with demolition or neglect. Properties listed on the
Watch List are significant to Wyoming at the local or state level and have local support for their preservation.

Significance and Threat

The Wyoming State Hospital campus in Evanston, one of four statewide institutions established by the Territorial Legislature in 1886, is in immediate danger of demolition. The historic hospital campus with its handsome stone-trimmed, red-brick buildings curved around an open lawn, was designed specifically to create a peaceful and beautiful setting to contribute to the healing process for the thousands of patients housed at the hospital. Generations of Evanston residents have worked at the hospital and the hilltop campus, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a highly visible and cherished landmark in the community.

Clark Building, Wyoming State Hospital campus, Richard Collier, Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office.

The Wyoming Department of Health, which operates the facility, no longer uses the historic buildings and wants to demolish them. Community members see potential in reusing the buildings for a variety of local needs, including housing.


The property, originally called the Wyoming Insane Asylum, was built to care for the state’s mentally ill. The campus was designed by Wyoming architect William R. Dubois and built over several periods from 1888 to 1935. The original hospital structure was a two-story brick building that housed male patients on the first floor and females on the second. The building also included space for administrative offices and living quarters for staff members.

Illustration of the Wyoming Insane Asylum, est. 1890, courtesy of Wyoming State Archives.

From an initial population of about 30 when the hospital opened, the patient roll grew to 129 by 1906, and had reached 460 by 1930. A major reason for this increase was an aging population of alcoholics and people suffering from tertiary syphilis, all of whom became permanent hospital residents. To meet the needs of this population, five buildings to house patients, along with a staff dormitory, were completed between 1908 and 1935. Each of the buildings was intended to serve the hospital’s mission, by separating patients according to needs (for instance, to separate more disruptive patients from the general population), to provide accommodations for the increasing female population, and to incorporate new therapies (such as hydrotherapy) into the hospital’s infrastructure.

Wyoming State Hospital Women’s Housing, Photo courtesy of the Wyoming State Archives.

From the late 1950s to the mid-2010s, with the development of psychotropic drugs, other new therapies, and the national move towards community-based mental health treatment, the resident patient population dwindled to less than 100. A combination residential and treatment center was built at the southern end of the campus leaving the historic complex at the northern end for quiet contemplation of a place that remains a significant part of Evanston’s cultural landscape.

(Excerpted from Barbara Allen Bogart, “Wyoming State Hospital,” SAH Archipedia, 2012.)

Contact Information and Call to Action

  • Local contact: Jim Davis, Chair, Evanston Historic Preservation Commission: 307 679-3485
  • Attention Developers!! – Supporters of the Wyoming State Hospital are looking for someone to present a proposal to purchase and develop this historic property! Contact Jim Davis at 307 679-3485
  • Sign the Petition!
  • Keep up to date on issues and opportunities to support preservation of the Wyoming State Hospital by following Save the Old WSH on Facebook and the Alliance for Historic Wyoming Watchlist. Sign up for our newsletter to receive advocacy alerts.
  • News stories: Wyoming Truth; Cowboy State Daily; AHW Newsletter; Public News Service.

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