Greybull American Legion Post 32 Rehabilitation
In 1935 ownership of an unused, thirteen year old church was transferred to the American Legion, Greybull Post 32 in exchange for one dollar. The little church became Legion Hall. The humble wood framed building never hosted a noteworthy event or person. It has no remarkable architectural attributes. It was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 because of its contribution to the development of Greybull’s social order between the years 1935 to 1995. An old World War Two veteran said it best: “No one did any thing in Greybull without the blessing of the American Legion. Hell, you couldn’t even have a baby without the blessing of the Legion. Everything was decided in Legion Hall.” Another World War Two veteran added, “Girls who had promised to wait until after the war for a young man married the first man who returned after the war. There were a lot of angry men. It took a marriage, a divorce, another marriage, another divorce. Sometimes it took four marriages and divorces but eventually everyone ended up with the right mate. Legion Hall was dry and orderly, but a lot of issues were decided out in the alley.”
In 2013 Post 32 had to decide what to do with an old building that had been neglected for over two decades. Civil authorities wanted it demolished for safety reasons. According to Post 32 By-Laws, Legion Hall was owned equally by each member. Meeting in Special Session, a strong majority of member-owners voted to save Legion Hall and all the stories the old building is associated with.
Post 32 had little money. The Greybull community offers a very small capital pool from which we can appeal. Estimates for the cost of renovation ranged from $150,000 to $450,000. Post 32 members were predominantly Vietnam-era or older so volunteerism was not dependable. But there were gestures from the community that offered hope. A Post 32 member donated $3000. The South Big Horn County Historical Society chipped in twice that amount. Another member donated $1000 and offered to pay for an architectural assessment. Applications for grants were sent to foundations all over the country. Our first grant came from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund for $10,000. A grant from the Wyoming Community Foundation followed. Post 32 had sufficient funds to build a new roof but we were paralyzed. Members were unfocused. An Executive Committee consisting of five experienced members could not develop a direction. Only after all responsibility was turned over to an Administrator and a Project Manager was it possible to mobilize a construction plan and a vision for the future of the building.
Legion Hall is now safe and stable. It has a new roof. Work has begun at the main entrance. Improvements are highly visible. Public perceptions have changed. People know we are seriously committed to providing a comfortable community meeting hall, local museum, gallery, and Post Home. We have spent $62,000 but we have a long ways to go.
–Paul Linse, Commander