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In 1913 Fannie Connor built a luxury hotel in Laramie, her home town. She named the hotel in honor of her husband who had perished in the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.Guests of the Connor Hotel luxuriated in lavish rooms and enjoyed fine western cuisine in the white-linened dining room. As you can see from photos tacked to the walls inside the hotel today, the lobby was graced by amazing stained-glass ceiling art.

By the 60s, when I was a child, the Connor had already lost much of its luster to the wave of new motels that catered to automobile travelers. Today the obsolete old building suffers from a lack of love and investment. Musty guest rooms have been converted to apartments, populated mostly by university students. The ground level has been diced into a string of small retails spaces, most of which stand empty and forlorn.

Until very recently The Rock Shop, aka Green Gold Jade, occupied one of the retail spaces. Originally located adjacent to the railroad tracks on First Street, the Rock Shop was the dream child and beloved hangout of Bob Tracy. After Bob’s passing, his wife Vivian continued the tradition, moving the store to the Connor for greater visibility and foot traffic.With two furry and sleepy-eyed cats for company, Viv, or the old lady in the Rock Shop as some of her fans referred to her, lent her ear to locals who came for jewelry repairs or sometimes just to talk. Despite Rush Limbaugh blaring from the back, Viv and her cats attracted rock hounds both young and old. Countless stories of her kindness emerged during the month-long going-out-of-business sale which followed Vivian’s passing. July 23rd marked the end of an era as the last rocks and cases left the shop. The Connor Hotel has one more vacant space. The Rock Shop is no more.

Viv’s daughter soaks up a moment of nostalgia on the final day in the Connor.

By the way, the kitties found new homes.

St. Matthews Episcopal Cathedral, viewed from the fourth floor of the Connor Hotel, has weathered the years with a great deal more TLC.