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

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