Legion Hall recipient of Sykes grant

By nathan oster

The American Legion, Greybull Post 32 has received a $15,000 grant from the Gordon and Edna Sykes Endowment Fund, which it plans to put toward the rehabilitation of its Legion Hall on North Fifth Street.

Post 32 will spend the grant funds on architectural and engineering services and other planning activities associated with the historic renovation and adaptive reuse of the building. The grant funds augment private donations and an earlier grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund.

The Wyoming Community Foundation administers the Sykes Fund, which is set up to benefit the residents of south Big Horn County.

The Legion Hall was placed on the National Register a year ago because it was a community resource that helped shaped the character of Greybull, according to Paul Linse, who is heading up the project.

“Over the past two years, many stories about activities and characters centered on Legion Hall have been reported and new stories emerge every week,” said Linse. “As we hear these stories, Post 32 regrets our neglect of this historic old building. Our neglect of our property clearly indicates neglect of our community.”

Linse said the vision is for the Legion Hall to serve the community, as it has in the past, but with greater dignity.

“Legion Hall will respectfully display memories of our community’s history of uniformed service to our country, a history that is filled with a range of colorful characters from cowboys charging San Juan Hill in the Spanish American War to many memorable events of World Wars I and II, Korea and on through conflicts in central and southeast Asia,” reported Linse. “This is a tough program. We must present these stories and people respectfully while knowing that their descendants carry bittersweet memories.

“As townspeople use Legion Hall, they will be reminded of past sacrifices of local men and women, some of whom no longer are part of our community, and they will be mindful of their responsibilities as citizens of our great country. We will also share our history with ‘cultural tourists’ who will come specifically to see an historic building that communicates our community’s spirit.

“We must balance respect for our history with the value of sharing our history and identity with others. The grant from the Wyoming Community Foundation will help us resolve these issues.”

The Historic Renovation phase of the Legion Hall project is now underway and will continue through 2015. During the Adaptive Reuse phase in 2016 through 2017, Legion Hall will be transformed into a versatile community asset, efficiently heated and lit, secure and fully ready to serve the needs of the community, said Linse.

“Our most critical date occurs in 2019,” he concluded. “We will have a completed, operational new community hall by the centennial anniversary of the American Legion.

“Post 32 is very grateful for the generous support from individuals in the community who have made the Legion Hall’s new roof possible. We are grateful for the support of the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund which has provided generously and also provided inspiration and guidance. We thank the Gordon and Edna Sykes Endowment Fund and the Wyoming Community Foundation who have enabled Post 32 to plan a venue of which Greybull will be very proud.”