By Luke Anderson
October 21, 2015
The Old Town Hall in Bairoil was built around 1925. The town epitomizes the spirit of the Western plains – tall prairie grass swaying in the wind, pure mountain springs, Oregon Trail wagon ruts, pronghorn and wild horses, and some of the oldest working ranches in Wyoming. The Old Town Hall stands as a testament to how the energy sector spurred development throughout Wyoming, merging the two seemingly opposite poles of pristine cultural landscapes and fossil fuel energy development. Bairoil was founded on this idea of coexistence between the two. The founder of Bairoil, Charles M. Bair, settled the area first as a sheep farmer. He was the first to drill oil in the area in 1916 and the town got its name from his Bair Oil Company.
The timber building sits on a poured concrete foundation. The Old Town Hall building served various purposes over its lifetime, once serving as an office building and dormitory for one of the many oil companies that has called Bairoil home throughout the years. The building has also been used as apartments, and features a jail cell in its basement. The building then served as the town hall until the 1980s, and it has been boarded up since the late 1990s. The building is currently being considered for the National Register of Historic Places and the town has plans to rehabilitate it.
This quaint community retains its beautiful Western roots and characteristics and illustrates how competing ideas can sometimes actually feed off of one another positively. The Old Town Hall embodies that spirit, and it stands as one of the last remaining historic structures in the area. It serves as a reminder of the heritage of a specific place. Sometimes our histories are not that far removed from the present as oil development continues to change communities in Wyoming today.
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This project was funded in part by a Historic Architecture Assistance Fund grant, and completed by CTA Architects and Engineers. The program is offered by the Alliance for Historic Wyoming in partnership with Wyoming Main Street and the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, and is made possible by a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund.