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Hyrum rallies to fund preservation of historic, 98-year-old Elite Hall

December 9th, 2015 Posted in Arts and Life

By Erin West

HYRUM – Hyrum’s Elite Hall, known for having one of only two surviving spring-loaded dance floors in Utah, has seen better days. In its heyday, the building hosted dances, family reunions and sports activities, but use has declined.

ELITE — Dance and meeting hall is worth preserving, supporters say. (Erin West photo)

ELITE — Dance and meeting hall is worth preserving, supporters say. (Erin West photo)

The 98-year-old building at 83 W. Main St. is significant for its association with community life in Hyrum, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city is looking to update and restore the run-down building to provide residents a place for more activities.

“We’d like to see something nice enough to be used for things like wedding receptions,” said Mayor Stephanie Miller. “We want it to be more user-friendly so people want to come use it. Right now, it’s okay, but we can make it a lot nicer. It’s like with anything that has aged, it can be updated.”

Elite Hall has been outdated by today’s building codes and the city’s concern for renovation is structural stability and accessibility. Utah’s preservation office offered the city of Hyrum a matching grant of $8,375 to cover architectural and engineering fees to determine exactly what measures would need to be taken for ongoing use and restoration.

Steve Peterson, architect and senior vice president of Case, Lowe & Hart, conducted the feasibility study. “We looked at structural elements, finishes, accessibility, utilities and equipment,” he said. “Things have changed since the 1900s and, over the years, different regulations have been placed. It just doesn’t meet current codes.”

The recommended improvements came back as “quite a bit of money,” Miller said. “It’s too much for the city to just take on.”

But Hyrum Museum Director Jami Van Huff agreed to lead fundraising efforts, and is in the process of forming a committee for the project.

“We need to raise over $100,000 in the long run,” she said. “We’ll take on one aspect at a time, and we’re shooting for $70,000 currently to restore the outside of the building.”

Don Hartly, historical architect for the Utah Historic Preservation Office, believes the cost is worth the hall’s restoration. “It’s a civic amusement hall,” he said. “It’s a place built specifically for people to gather, and there aren’t many of those around in Utah anymore.”

Miller hopes enough funds will be raised.

“It’s just one of the historic things Hyrum’s known for,” she said. “I think it’s important to do what we can to preserve it.”

TP

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