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tv   Edward Ivinson Early Laramie  CSPAN  November 10, 2019 5:50pm-6:01pm EST

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music]nd fife >> this year, c-span is touring cities across the country exploring american history. recent, a look at our visit to laramie, wyoming. you are watching american history tv on c-span3.
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mansion thatn the edward ivinson built in laramie, wyoming in 1892. it is now the home of the laramie plains museum. it has been restored. for about 10 years, it was vacant. people broke in vandalized the , building. it has been a long and fruitful to make it into this wonderful museum we have here that highlights the ivinson family and historical issues from the past in laramie, wyoming. edward ivinson was born on the island of st. croix in the caribbean. he lived there for seven years. his father moved there from northwestern england to manage a sugarcane plantation. he wound up in new york city. while he was there, he met a young woman. he was 23, she was they ran away 16. to jersey city, new jersey to get married.
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eventually like a lot of young folks, they moved west to make their fame and fortune. and eventually wound up in laramie, wyoming. the family had been living in memphis, tennessee. he decided to move the family to california. and the way he thought he would get to california is, he had a dry goods store in memphis. he sold all of the stuff. got freight cars. he put his stuff in these freight cars. as the union pacific was built across the great plains, he followed along and had a rolling dry goods store. the railroad stopped construction for the winter in 1867. edward learns through some source that the union pacific railroad is going to have a facility in what would become laramie, wyoming. there was nothing here at the time. he came over here before the railroad in february of 1868. he built a log building in what is now downtown laramie.
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he started selling things to people awaiting the arrival of the railroad. the railroad arrived in may. along with his wife and adopted daughter. as i said earlier, they ran the dry goods store for three years. then he starts his banking career. eventually -- let me say this. ivinson was an astute merchant. through his bank, he made a lot of money. early on, he was criticized for the way he made his money. really high interest rates out of the bank. foreclosed mortgages at the drop of a hat. the good news is when he turned 80 years old, he decided to give all of his money away. almost all of the came back to our town. just the year after his wife died in 1916, he gave $15,000 and four cityh lots, that paid for the first construction of our hospital. he gave property to the church, 1919, which funded an orphanage. 1924, he built our world war i memorial. 1925, he gave away in today's
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terms, $1.5 million in cash to family, friends, and employees. he structured his will so that the remainder of his estate would go into a trust fund which would be used to build a fabulous building for the home for elderly ladies which is still in use today. when he died, there was $500,000 in his estate. $8 million to $10 million today. it built a beautiful facility. 28 suites for single ladies. because of his trust fund, there was no charge for room and board. because he built the hospital, the ladies got free medical care. it is still there. it is still gorgeous. things have changed a little bit. but it is a wonderful facility. despite being criticized early for his ostentatious lifestyle, it all came back to us here at laramie. we are still experiencing the benefits from edward ivinson.
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his life as a merchant and a banker. we are proud of the fact that he decided at the age of 80 to do what was right for our community. if it was not for the union pacific railroad, laramie would probably not be here. the transcontinental railroad act gave all this land in the west to union pacific. we open the front door. we have a little thing i like to do. we have the doorknob to the original front door, which is a really heavy brass, beautiful doorknob. it is interesting because it came to us in a box in the mail maybe five years ago with a note from a guy who was a student at the university of laramie. he stole the doorknob. that is a good icebreaker for people come into the vestibule. then i take them into the foyer. our first important stop is into jane ivinson's drawing room. the intention was that is where she would do informal
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entertainment for her lady friends. and then, i go into the smoking room. i draw the contrast between the very nice bright light drawing room and the darker, more somber smoking room. the dining room is nice because in the dining room, we have nice artifacts that belong to the ivinsons. we have the oyster plates. they had the made on one of the long trips to europe. we have this beautiful stemware. we have a punch bowl that was given to their son-in-law who ran his bank for a while in san diego. and then, we change from the five formal rooms of the first floor of the mansion to the working part of the mansion. it is easy to draw the contrast. we have all of this beautiful hardwood in the formal rooms. and in there, we have pine and linoleum. then we go upstairs into the , bedrooms which are quite
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large. not unusual for a house of this size in the 1890's. and then, into the master bathroom where we have this cool 1892 shower. it is really cool. it would cost may be $8,000 today. it is really cool. that is really interesting. it is a walk-in shower. it is built out of brass that is nickel plated. it has a showerhead above and a showerhead on either side. tubes all of these little . it looks like a cage. all of the tubes have little tiny holes in them. you don't have to turn around to take a shower. i had a person come through the museum the other day who said it was like going into a car wash. we are now in what we call the library. we are pretty sure the bookcases were put in by the boarding school because the girls would
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use this as a study hall, even though they did not take classes here, they went to public school. i like to point out that we have one piece of furniture in the house that belonged to edward ivinson. it is this boardroom table out of one of the banks he owned in town. we get some really amazing people who come through that talk about the elegant woodwork in the house. there is all this different type of hardwood in the mansion that edward had installed. the amazing 1892 pocket doors in the mansion. i had a guy come through three years ago who had just closed up his custom woodworking business in montana after 30 years and he said he could build one of those pocket doors for us for $7,000. those are the kinds of things that are fun to learn when you give tours. his whole life is a fascinating story. he is born on a plantation.
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he winds up in new york with no money. we know he did not have any money because we recently received a letter his father sent him that says we know you are without a position. he ends up in laramie, wyoming. 800 people in 1870. and he amasses this fortune. builds this beautiful building. he is a major builder downtown. i think it is fair to say that he is a critical part of the evolution of laramie all the way through 1928 when he finally passed away. for both jane and edward, what i want people to walk away from after they see this house that cost an awful lot of money to build, that maybe the money, at least early on, was made from the people of laramie and not the best way. that when they leave, they understand what they did for our community. whether it was jane's early
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actions with the schools in the church and suffragists or especially his philanthropy that resulted in all of these great things for our community. that is what i would like them to walk away from. you can see in a lot of places fancy homes. this one is an elegant home. but it is really important that people understand that making his money off of the community,f the community, that money came back to us. that's what i really hope they walk away with. our city's tourist staff travel to laramie, wyoming to learn about its rich history. to watch more video from laramie and other stops on our tour, visit you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. each week, american


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