By: Todd Thibodeau
Charles F. Swayger was born in Bohemia in 1866. At the age of 12, he went to horticultural school, graduating 6 years later. Upon graduation, he made the trip overseas to the New World. Over the next 15 years, he honed his trade and practiced as a landscape gardener in New York City, Pittsburgh, California, Colorado, Mexico, Cuba and Key West. Soon he was recognized for his skills, designing some of the most artistic gardens in the country. Eventually, the Union Pacific Railroad hired him to design and supervise work on station landscapes throughout the Rocky Mountain West, including the beautiful grounds around the Cheyenne depot. Swayger also became the forester and landscape gardener for Fort D.A. Russell.
In 1905, Swayger built a home on six acres of land at the corner of Randall Avenue and Bent Street in Cheyenne. Swayger was gaining prominence as a landscape gardener and wanted a house that matched his station. He built a Georgian Revival influenced house with many unique features of the era. At the time no other house looked like the Swayger home and it gained considerable recognition.
Swayger built numerous greenhouses on the property that have since been removed. He spent years experimenting with watering plants and studied different methods of irrigation from California to Mexico. He came up with a system to water the trees and plants from above with iron pipes with spaced nozzles. The pipes were on big swivel wheels that allowed him to move the pipes and turn the spray in any direction. He was able to adjust pressure in the system to regulate spray and used warm water to prevent freezing. The property had a boiler house with a twelve hundred gallon tank to provide warm water to heat the greenhouses and water the plants. At the time this one of the largest heated greenhouse complexes in the Rocky Mountain West.
Through the years the house had fallen in to decay. In 2008, the Swayger home was purchased by Todd Thibodeau and he is working to restore the house to its former glory.
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