By Western Hands on 12th Street is honoring Cody’s history by calling its new outdoor public space Enterprise Plaza.
Founded as a nonprofit organization in 2015, By Western Hands opened its doors as a handcrafted functional art gallery at 1007 12th in June 2019, after extensive interior and exterior remodeling of the former Gambles building across from the historic Chamberlin Inn.
The organization’s mission is to educate, conserve and perpetuate the legacy of western design and craftsmanship. The building, owned by Helping Hands specifically to lease to BWH, showcases functional art and has space for educational and training programs.
The small, outdoor area on the south side of BWH will feature signs, planters and benches to create an attractive, downtown public-private space where people can relax comfortably while appreciating Cody’s history along with the artistic talents of its western artists.
The nonprofit group chose Enterprise Plaza as a name because from 1901 to 1909 the Enterprise, founded by Buffalo Bill Cody, was housed in a wood-framed building on the same spot. Three 2-by-3-foot mounted plaques will memorialize the site’s history.
A Wyoming Business Council Open Summer Placemaking Grant of $2,500 and other donations are helping to pay for the plaza.
By Western Hands recently applied for a city permit to install a freestanding wall sign along with the three historical plaques.
The plan is to finish the outdoor space by year’s end, according to a signage proposal submitted to the City of Cody Planning and Zoning Board for consideration Aug. 11.
“BWH hopes the plaza will become a ‘photo opportunity and resting stop’ for visitors to Cody,” the document said. “The plaza will be privately owned and maintained, and will be used for outdoor gatherings for BWH events.”
The property is within the Downtown Architectural District established by city code, which says P&Z must examine designs and plans for signs intended for commercial buildings within the district and make suggestions if changes are warranted.
The reason for the Downtown Architectural District is to promote architectural compatibility and preservation of historic features on buildings in downtown Cody, many of them of historical significance.
“The proposed signs do not affect the architecture of the building and will be of professional quality,” Todd Stowell, city planner, said.
While the plaza is under construction, BWH plans to install a welded steel-pipe frame extending from the ground to the top of the roof line. The frame will look similar to banners flanking the doors at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Changeable, vinyl banner signs will advertise specific events and exhibits the gallery sponsors. The organization may not use the space to advertise off-premises events.
Together, the three historical plaques will tell the story about the Enterprise and other noteworthy topics, “with one plaque devoted to the history of Cody being the home to authentic western functional design and the home of Thomas Molesworth and other legends of western design, with a brief history of BWH and its predecessors,” the sign’s description said.
Stowell noted since the historical plaques are 1-square foot or smaller, they are exempt from the sign code.
P&Z members approved the signs as proposed.