by nathan oster
A Blessing of Our Post Home ceremony Wednesday morning kicked off what will likely be a long but ultimately fruitful renovation project at the Legion Hall, located at 130 N. Fifth St. in Greybull.
Work on the building began in earnest on Thursday, with the initial focus being the roof, which was dismantled. New roof trusses will replace the failed roof structure and a new roof will be installed.
Paul Linse, commander of Post 32, said the project is proceeding because of the generosity of the community.
“The grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund grew by 2 1/2 times. Post 32 is very grateful and humbled. The response of the community makes it even more important for us to return to them a well-crafted, secure, comfortable building they can use for the next century.”
The Legion Hall was originally built as a church in 1922. A charter was conferred to a newly-formed Trinity Methodist-Episcopal church congregation in February 1922. A building committee was formed and work was to begin immediately, reported the Greybull Standard in its coverage of the event.
The next Greybull Standard article about the building appeared the week before Christmas, 1922. Construction of the church was nearing completion to prepare for its inaugural event, the Christmas Day Service. In its exuberant coverage of that inaugural event a week later, the Greybull Standard praised the exceptional labor of one man, P. S. Osgood, who, “worked day and night since November to complete the building for this event.”
The little church was built in the excitement of Greybull’s oil boom in the early 1920s. The boom went bust very quickly. In less than a decade Greybull’s population deflated from its peak of about 5,000 souls who believed the reports that Greybull was destined to be the “Oil Capital of the West” to its more stable 1000 civic-minded citizens. With its diminished congregation the M-E church was sold to Greybull Post 32 of the American Legion in 1935 for $1. The little sanctuary became Legion Hall.
Looking forward, Linse said “the renovated Legion Hall will serve the community for the next ninety years as it has for the past 60, but with more distinction. The renovated building will be patiently well-crafted by men and women who love their work. It will always be Legion Hall: home to Greybull Post 32 of the American Legion. Post 32 will honor the spirit of our past members and pay tribute to Greybull’s heroes. Its second primary function will be to serve the people of Greybull as it did in the past: it will be a meeting hall that will accommodate a variety of activities. Finally, its third function will be to honor the work and art of Greybull’s residents.
“The Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund recognizes the relationship between the cultural value of Wyoming’s historical, cultural treasures and the economic value brought by people who travel to study our cultural past. Legion Hall will be a venue where our community shows others the best that we were, are, and can be.”
He said renovations will proceed “with deliberate patience.” By Christmas 2015 Legion Hall will be a modern, weather-tight building. 2016 construction activities will fit out the building with finishes, furnishings, and equipment suited to its purpose of serving the community. By Christmas 2016 Legion Hall will be a comfortable, modern meeting hall capable of accommodating a variety of groups and activities. By Christmas 2017, Legion Hall will display the history of service and the works of Greybull residents.
“As we work we will not condemn P. S. Osgood for cutting corners or compromising his craft,” said Linse. “We will respect him and complete his task and recognize the building is a monument to the craftsmanship that existed in Greybull in 1922.”