The Crown Jewel of Laramie
In 1870, Edward Ivinson bought this city block for the spot of his future home. By 1892, this $40,000 mansion was complete with central heating, electric lights and running water. Quite the marvel of Laramie.
Edward Ivinson made a fortune in banking in Laramie, Wyo. in the 19th century and turned to philanthropy late in his life, making large contributions to benefit his town and community. Ivinson was born Sept. 20, 1830 in the Virgin Islands on St. Croix, where his father, Thomas, had moved from northwest England to manage a sugar cane plantation.
Edward returned to England at age seven to be formally educated and remained there until the early 1850s, when he immigrated to New York City. In New York he met and married Jane Wood, who had also recently arrived in the city. Edward was 23 and Jane 13 at the time; their marriage lasted 61 years. The couple soon moved west, first to Indiana and then to Peoria, Ill. There they adopted a young girl, Maggie Watson, she being the only child the Ivinsons would ever have.
Coming to Laramie
After moving to Memphis, Tennessee about 1862, Ivinson purchased a large dry goods business. The Ivinsons decided, however, to move on to California and Edward traveled alone in the fall of 1867 to the winter terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad near Cheyenne.
According to the Cheyenne Leader, Ivinson scouted the new town for business opportunities but decided instead to temporarily locate 50 miles further west, in the soon to be new town of Laramie City, Dakota Territory, where he arrived in February, 1868. Laramie at the time was just a collection of tents and temporary buildings. As the railroad approached in May, Laramie became a true end-of-the-tracks town, replete with rowdies, thugs, shady women and a few reputable merchant and ranch families.
Ivinson opened a grocery store in what is now downtown Laramie and was joined by his wife, their daughter and the family maid on 10 May 1868. For unknown reasons they decided to make Laramie their permanent home.
Giving back to Albany County: All told, by the time of his death on April 9, 1928, it is likely that in 2014 terms, Edward Ivinson gave around $10-12 million dollars to Albany County and the city of Laramie. While he earned far more than that in his lifetime and spent it lavishly, at the end of his life he provided funds to help make his community a better place to live.
Read more about the Ivinsons: https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/edward-ivinson
Visit the Mansion: http://laramiemuseum.org/