Jas Barbe can remember driving away from Cheyenne a little less than 50 years ago in his 1972 green Chevy Vega with his middle finger in the air, cursing everyone and everything in the state.
He would never come back to Wyoming, he’d had enough. Instead, he was going to travel the world.
“Fifty-one years later, here I am,” Barbe said from the comfort of a reupholstered chair in the lobby of the Nagle Warren Mansion on Friday. “My intent when I first came back here was to be here a year or two and get this place back up and running. I didn’t anticipate certain emotions happening. I feel like I’m back home.”
Barbe is the new innkeeper and co-owner of the mansion, a landmark in Cheyenne and a popular bed and breakfast that closed in 2019 due to the retirement of former owner Jim Osterfoss.
Barbe said Osterfoss actually contacted him that same year about taking over the inn, but Barbe was unable to do so because he was under “several” hospitality-related contracts.
However, in March 2021, Barbe’s busy schedule finally cleared to a point he was ready to circle back to Osterfoss.
“I called to check up on him and found out he had passed [in January 2021],” Barbe said. “But I got to talking with the realtor and found out Jim’s children had taken ownership of the inn. So I got with the kids and became partners with them.”
The mansion is officially slated to reopen sometime in mid-July, as Barbe and his team are still working out a few kinks at the inn, such as the plumbing, which dates back to the 1880s.
The mansion will open with a dozen rooms available. After Cheyenne Frontier Days, the inn will begin hosting special events, such as afternoon and holiday teas, weddings, a supper club and much more.
Barbe has big plans for the nearly 140-year-old building.
Barbe and the crew have spent the last year basically renovating the entire inside of the building, from the floors to ceilings. They have also been painstakingly researching the history of the mansion and the families associated with it, the Nagles and Warrens.
“This was the most expensive house built in America: $50,000 in 1888,” Bare said. “Everything important that happened in Wyoming between the 1880s to around 1930 happened in this house. What would be the future of the Philippines was decided in the room across from me. Buffalo Bill Cody met with Pawnee Bill here.”
Erasmus Nagle bought the mansion for his family in 1888, but died just two years later. His wife, Emma, and son, George, lived there until 1907. Emma Nagle rented the home to Gen. George Randall, who served in the Civil War, from 1907 to 1910 and it was bought by former Gov. Francis E. Warren in 1910.
Warren entertained many a famous guest at the home during his time there, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. After his death in 1929, his wife donated the house to the Cheyenne YWCA, which owned the building for many years.
The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Osterfoss bought the inn in 1997 and converted it into the bed and breakfast and now, it has become one again.
The history that emanates from every wall of the home is why Barbe was so attracted to coming back to Nagle Warren. He described it as the “duchess,” a house and inn that is one-of-a-kind.
“We’re protecting this. We’re making sure this city has this in 50 years,” Barbe said. “I want this to be here for your grandchildren. I am creating a refuge of 1900. It’s an immersion, basically kind of like a fantasy.”