THE IRMA'S PLACE IN HISTORY
Step back into the old West at The Irma Hotel a place that Buffalo Bill Cody called a "gem". You'll experience the romance of an era when Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show try-outs were held on the lots west of the hotel, when buffalo ran amok in downtown Cody, and when European nobility headquartered at The Irma while on hunting treks in the area.
"Buffalo Bill", William F. Cody, was arguably the best known American in the world during his lifetime. Having been involved in many events that shaped the American West, he formed an arena show of the western experience called Buffalo Bill's Wild West in 1883. It toured the United States and Europe for 30 years.
Buffalo Bill helped found Cody, Wyoming, in 1895. He also established his TE Ranch in the area. In 1902, he built an establishment which he called "just the sweetest hotel that ever was" and named it for his youngest daughter, Irma. It was built to appeal to visitors from around the world -- as a staging point for sightseers headed for Yellowstone, big game hunters, summers tourists, and businessmen investigating the ranching, mining, and other business opportunities. Buffalo Bill maintained two suites and an office at the hotel for his personal use.
When the Burlington Railroad completed a spur line into Cody, Buffalo Bill's plan was to have travelers stay at his hotels in the Rockies on their way to the east gate of Yellowstone National Park. They included The Irma Hotel in Cody, near the railroad; Wapiti Inn (a day's wagon ride west); and Pahaska Teepee near the East gate of the Park.
The Irma is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service in recognition of its contribution to the cultural foundations of America. A copy of the application and accompanying photos are available on the National Park Service site. The hotel was designed by Alfred Wilderman Woods, a Lincoln, Nebraska church architect. Certain exterior walls are made of river rock and locally quarried sandstone from Beck Lake just south of town. The fireplace is an assemblage of rock, ores, minerals, and fossils from the Big Horn Basin.