Legion in position to start building renovations

by nathan oster

American Legion Post No. 32 Commander Paul Linse has announced that renovations to the Legion Hall building on North Fifth Street are expected to begin soon.

Donations from American Legion members and individuals from the community now total more than $6,500, which is more than 10 percent of the total amount Post 32 will require for the total renovation project costs.

Linse said Post 32 has also applied for grants from a variety of sources and feels confident the building will be restored to a state better than the original hall, giving the community an attractive venue for a variety of events and activities.

More important, “the Legion Hall will once again display photos, accounts, news articles, and memorabilia recounting the community’s young men and women who have served the country, usually with distinction, always with loyalty, and occasionally with stark, sudden finality.“

According to Linse, “it will once again proudly serve our community as a reservoir of history, a repository of memories of men and women who served when our country called them, often going to faraway places and returning with stories of extraordinary deeds and exotic locations.”

Linse provided the following information about the building’s history:

“The Legion Hall was built in 1922 as a Methodist-Episcopalian Church.  Its first service was on Christmas Day, 1922.  It was sold for $1 to the American Legion, Greybull Post 32, in 1935.  It became a well-used venue for every service organization, civic club, and group requiring a meeting place.  It was used by unions, boards, and committees. Boys Scouts, Girl Scouts, and churches used the building.

“The Legion Hall reached the apex of its influence on the social development of our community after World War II when young men returning to Greybull often found big changes.  Marriages got settled and rearranged at the Legion Hall.

“While no liquor was permitted inside the Hall, many accounts from that era describe how affairs were often settled in the alley alongside the Hall.  ‘No one was ever murdered,’ one firsthand witness to the times recounted.

“The Legion Hall continued to be heavily used by community groups through the 1960s and ‘70s.  The school used the building for classes until 1965 when the band room was constructed at the elementary school.  Its latter years were spent as a storage facility.  Little or no maintenance has been performed on the old building since 1996.”

Linse said he’s been working to get the building added to the National Register of Historic Places.  An application to that effect has been accepted by the State Historic Preservation Office, which  he called “the first step in the building joining other significant historical buildings, objects, and places across the nation.”

The Secretary of the Interior will announce a final determination in early 2014, Linse said.

He added, “P. J. Osborn is given credit for building the original church.  While one account states construction began under the direction of the church’s building committee soon after the church was organized in February of 1922, a later account says Mr. Osborn almost single-handedly built the church in November and December of that year to prepare for the first service at Christmastime.

“Kurt Dubbe, the architect from Jackson who inspected and reported on the condition of the building, was astonished at how stoutly the building was built.  The exception is the roof structure, but even with the compromises and corners cut, Mr. Dubbe cited the extraordinary ‘history of performance of the building.’   We at Post 32 are honored to assume the responsibility for renovating Mr. Osborn’s well-crafted building.”

The community is invited to participate in this restoration effort. Donations may be sent to The American Legion, Greybull Post 32, P.O. Box 140, Greybull WY 82426.   Potential patrons of this project should check with their accountant or lawyer to verify how contributing to their community may also favorably affect their tax bill.  Of course, volunteers are always welcome to help as are donations of materials.