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Old dance hall kicks up heels

By Suzanne Dean
Deseret News, 13 July 2004

Article Summary:

early history:

  • built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the early 1900s
  • a combination building with a theater on one side and dance hall on the other
  • the LDS Church started selling off dance halls in the 1940s
  • the Fountain Green hall was purchased and converted into a general store and roller-skating rink
  • the store closed in the 1970s and remained vacant for 30 years

dance hall history:

  • for decades, the building was "the heart of the community”
  • a dance was held every weekend, almost always with live orchestra accompaniment
  • whole families attended dances, even young children in pajamas and bare feet
  • the town staged dances when soldier were sent to the world wars or returned home

theater history:

  • used for community and children's plays and silent movies
  • John Oldroyd cranked the hand-operated projector
  • Deniece Blackham, who died in 2004 at age 92, played vaudevillian music on the piano to accompany the movies

condition of building before restoration:

  • roof and part of the floor had caved in
  • deteriorated pieces of the building had fallen into the centers of the rooms
  • parts of the building were almost knee deep in pigeon droppings

restoration:

  • cost $700,000
  • building listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • in 1998 Russ Evans persuaded the owners to donate the building to the city, so the restoration effort could qualify for grant money
  • inmates from the Gunnison prison cleared debris during 2001 and 2002, until funding for the prison work program ran out
  • local volunteers cleared junk on weekends
  • the last of the debris on the dance hall side was pushed to the center of the room and destroyed by bonfire
  • a dedication party for the dance hall side of the building was held on Memorial Day weekend

restoration funding:

  • the Division of State History awarded a $40,000 grant for historic and engineering studies
  • a couple brothers in town provided a new roof, a $70,000 donation
  • after the new roof was installed, major loans, grants, and gifts came in
  • $65,000 from the George S. and Dolores Dore' Eccles Foundation
  • $180,000 from the Utah Community Impact Board
  • $150,000 from the community
  • the Heritage Committee still needs to raise $50,000
  • in-kind donations of materials and volunteer labor, including 5,000 hours from 300 volunteers

dance hall features:

  • a maple dance floor with rubber matting underneath
  • a stenciled border around the walls that matches original stenciling
  • doors just like the originals

work remaining on theater side:

  • flooring on the stage and auditorium
  • lay replica Victorian-era carpeting in the aisles
  • install chairs from a theater building at Snow College
  • add a sound system
  • marquee on the exterior
Original Source:
Old dance hall kicks up heels