Filed Under Architecture

The Ivinson Mansion and Laramie Plains Museum

Located in Laramie, Wyoming, the Ivinson Mansion was aptly renamed to the Laramie Plains Museum. Used as a home by the Ivinson family, a school for girls, and now as a museum, the mansion gives insight into many facets of life of frontier living in early U.S. history.

Edward Ivinson was born in 1830 in the Virgin Islands. At the age of twenty-three, he married the English-born Jane Wood. They moved to Laramie City in 1868 where the family helped establish numerous local ventures. In 1868, Edward Ivinson ran a grocery store—where the family held church services in the backyard of the store. Edward Ivinson bought the local bank in 1871 and used the funds to help establish the city’s courthouse five years later. With money from Ivinson’s successful business ventures, the family started construction on their mansion in 1892. After Jane’s death in 1914, Edward contributed $50,000 to build a hospital and donated money to local churches. In 1921, Edward donated his home to the Episcopal Missionary District of Wyoming. The church used the home as a school for local girls who could not travel to school elsewhere. As transportation became easier, the school closed in 1958. The building stood empty until 1972 when the Laramie Plains Museum Association bought the mansion.

Contracted by Frank Cook and designed by Salt Lake City architect W.E. Ware, the mansion originally featured central heating, electric lights, and running water. The 11,726-square-foot mansion cost $40,000 to build. It has characteristics of the Queen Anne architectural style with steeply pitched, irregular roof shapes, a prominent, front-facing gable, patterned roof shingles, and towers (one square and the other octagonal). The masonry on the walls varies in color and texture with carved ornamentation and patterned horizontal siding. The towers create an asymmetrical facade, and a porch is centered at the front of the home. Jane Ivinson influenced the interior decorating, favoring furnishings and fixtures from Chicago and stained-glass windows.

The Laramie Plains Museum Association (LPMA) bought the mansion in 1972. That same year, the government listed the mansion on the National Register of Historic Places. The LPMA has spent the past thirty-seven years restoring and caring for the mansion to return it to its original splendor. Guides offer tours 1:00 – 4:00 PM Tuesdays through Saturdays. During the summer, the museum is open 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sunday afternoons. The Girls’ School built the Alice Harvey Stevens Center as a gymnasium, and now it can be rented for weddings, classes, parties, and other community events. The mansion and the grounds can also be rented for similar events.

Images

Ivinson Mansion - Laramie Wyoming 2012<br />
Ivinson Mansion - Laramie Wyoming 2012
Viewing the Ivinson Mansion from the rear. Notice the asymmetrical design and varying textures on the home. Source: Nightsurfing, from Flickr. “Ivinson Mansion - Laramie Wyoming 2012,” available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/89999998@N06/8488339808/.
The Laramie Plains Museum in the 1892 Ivinson Mansion in Laramie, Wyoming<br />
The Laramie Plains Museum in the 1892 Ivinson Mansion in Laramie, Wyoming
The Ivinson Mansion nestled between tall trees. Source: :Carol, Highsmith, from the Library of Congress. The Laramie Plains Museum in the 1892 Ivinson Mansion in Laramie, Wyoming,” available at https://cdn.loc.gov/service/pnp/highsm/32800/32807v.jpg.
The Ivinson Mansion, Laramie<br />
The Ivinson Mansion, Laramie
A closer view of the Ivinson Mansion. Notice the differently shaped towers and the centered porch. Source: Fintano, from Flickr. “The Ivinson Mansion, Laramie,” available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/fintano/29044341940/.
General View from East with Obelisk<br />
General View from East with Obelisk
A historic photo of Ivinson Mansion. The monument to the right of the home was a World War I memorial that Edward Ivinson donated in 1921. Source: Morris, Scott and Ruth Deboer, from the Library of Congress. “GENERAL VIEW FROM EAST WITH OBELISK - Ivinson Mansion, 603 Ivinson Avenue, Laramie, Albany County, WY,” available at https://www.loc.gov/resource/hhh.wy0050.photos/?sp=1.
View of Southeast Elevation<br />
View of Southeast Elevation
One of the first images of the Laramie Plains Museum after the LPMA bought the mansion. For more images, visit the website at http://laramiemuseum.org/. Source: Morris, Scott and Ruth DeBoer, from the Library of Congress. “View of Southeast Elevation - Ivinson Mansion, 603 Ivinson Avenue, Laramie, Albany County, WY,” available at https://www.loc.gov/resource/hhh.wy0050.photos/?sp=3.

Location

603 E Ivinson Ave, Laramie, WY 82070

Metadata

Megan Nolan, Northern Arizona University
, “The Ivinson Mansion and Laramie Plains Museum,” Intermountain Histories, accessed February 25, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/237.