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New life for an old building

Community of Fountain Green looks to the future by rebuilding the past

By Susan Whitney
Deseret News, 15 November 2004

Article Summary:

Fountain Green Theatre and Dance Hall:

early history and store:

  • built in 1918 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • the LDS Church sold property in 1944 to Ivin Rasmussen
  • Rasmussen kept operating the theater and dance hall until 1950, “when television changed the way people spent their evenings”
  • Rasmussen turned the dance hall into a general store
  • Rasmussen would give each customer a little white mint from a big candy jar on the counter
  • store closed in 1976

theater:

  • was boarded up after closing in 1950
  • had an orchestra pit, where a pianist played for silent movies
  • heated by potbellied stoves along the walls of the room
  • showed silent movies, then talkies
  • curtain had ads for banks and mills and furniture stores

restoration:

  • Fountain Green Heritage Committee suggested restoring the old dance hall/theater in 1998
  • 300 people, nearly half the population of the area, volunteered on the project
  • dance hall received one of nine annual Heritage Awards for preservation, awarded by the Utah Heritage Foundation in November 2004
  • Heritage Committee president Russ Evans approached Rasmussen's descendants in 1998 about donating the property to the city
  • Heritage Committee wanted to restore the theater for plays and movies, and the dance hall for receptions, reunions, and dances
  • volunteers piled up the rotted wood from the floor and ceiling and started a bonfire
  • volunteers used a high-pressure hose on the walls and discovered the original green-and-red stencil design 14 feet above the floor
  • Denice Aagard overcame her fear of heights to repaint the stencil design
operation:
  • estimated annual operating cost for the entire building is $13,400
  • dance hall rents for $200 per reception
  • plan to borrow movies from the Brigham Young University film library for little or no cost
  • the dance hall has been busy every weekend since opening, with family reunions and at least a dozen wedding receptions
Original Source:
New life for an old building