Student captures Civic Center through photos

Photographer Doc Thissen sets up his camera inside a former chemistry lab on the third floor of the Laramie Plains Civic Center. Katie Giroux/Boomerang intern

Walking the labyrinthine halls and exploring the rooms of the Laramie Plains Civic Center, photographer Doc Thissen knows the historic building has many stories to tell.

Through photos and words, he’s hoping to gather as many as he can.

“I’m a student at Academy of Art University and I decided to take this semester off … to work on more personal projects. This is one I’ve wanted to do ever since the first time I was at the Civic Center 10 years ago,” Thissen said.

Thissen’s project is two-fold: to tell the story of the Civic Center today through photographs of the building’s character as well as renovations and to gather the stories of those who attended or worked at the school.

“I figure enough people went to school there, including my wife, and they probably have some interesting tales,” he said.

For Thissen, there are hints of those stories scattered everywhere throughout the Civic Center, from two names scrawled on the rooftop door — Don Bath and Rich Johnston — to the word “Blanko” spraypainted in the old swimming pool.

“I would really like to track down the guys who scratched their names in the door,” Thissen said.

While the original building was constructed in 1878, many additions have been added on to the Civic Center over the years, making it a unique and important Laramie landmark, he added.

“I think the building has an interesting story to tell. Because of all the additions and so forth, the various changes, it’s turned into a big labyrinth inside,” Thissen said. “I haven’t even been in each room yet.”

Throughout his work on the project, Thissen said he’s received a great deal of support and assistance from the Laramie Plains Civic Center staff.

“(LPCC Executive Director) Alec (Shea) and the rest of management have been really focused on restoration, and that’s one of the things I’m trying to capture,” Thissen said.

For more information about Thissen’s Civic Center Project or to view his photos, go to or e-mail him at

For more information about the Laramie Plains Civic Center, go to

(10) comments


Laramie loves to act like every building that is old or that some legislator went to high school in is a historical shrine."I think the building has an interesting story to tell. Because of all the additions and so forth, the various changes, it’s turned into a big labyrinth inside,” Thissen said. “I haven’t even been in each room yet.”Good luck with that, the place is a dump on the inside and a white elephant for the community. We will continue to dump hundreds of thousands of tax dollars into if for nothing.


Great Pictures Doc!


We used to run through the center in the dark finding back hallways and closet was so spooky...but so much fun


That in almost EVERY other community, whether it's Wyoming or not, these old school buildings are being turned into various housing, retail, or other venues? The space is valuable. The HISTORY is valuable! Why can't we do this here? We have one attempt (Washington apts) but otherwise, we keep putting off actually doing anything worthwhile, until the building is not saveable.So, "When will we learn", when will YOU learn that history is important, and wasting it by destroying every old building is flat out stupid.


To "when will we learn". Ha. Grump. History is interesting to those of us that enjoy our lives. Including the old buildings in Laramie. I suspect nothing interests you. Sorry your life is so unhappy that you have to write grumpy posts to neat stories. That's a shame.


To when will we learn: hundreds of thousands? Try millions. Replacing all of the windows is costing over $1 million. Once the windows are completed prepare for talk of a new boiler or two, asbestos removal, a new roof, and never ending remodeling projects. Oh well, it is funny money - grants and such.


Great pics, Now what? These pics must be a requirement to graduate!


Glad to see some realistic people that realize money spent to update a few windows and replacing out of date electrical utilities could be better spent building a brand new up to date facility. Maybe some people enjoy paying taxes to relive old memories but some of us younger people would rather see money put into new construction that will last for our lifetimes not just until the baby boomers pass.


I love this building,my dad went to school there and I love walking around and looking at the history. I can't help but wonder what it was like to go to school there,what kind of people went there and what kind of things my dad did.I also take my kids every weekend to play in the gym it's free, fun, and something to to as a family without having to put up with loud obnoxious people.I would like an update on this story in the future.Thank you I love Laramie!Sorry when will you learn maybe you should leave Laramie?


I love this building but also appreciate the expense of its many problems. I wish some billionaire would see it, shell it, remodel and make it headquarters without public funds....not holding my breath but it is a beautiful building.

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