Historic Community Halls Open Doors for Tour, Potlucks, Pie Auctions
Thursday, August 5, 2021
BUFFALO, Wyo. -- The doors of five historic community halls across Johnson and Sheridan counties were opened this past weekend for 15 people curious to see where previous generations of ranchers and farmers came together from miles around for picnics, quilting circles and dancing until dawn.
Courtney Caplan, board president of Kearney Community Hall, who led restoration efforts for the building 15 miles north of Buffalo, said events dating back to the 1920s gave families a chance to chat and catch up, share meals, raise a little hell, and do some courting.
"Without someplace to gather, you don't know who your neighbors are, you do become more suspicious of the next guy," Caplan explained. "Community halls bring people together. You come to enjoy the music, you're not there to squabble."
In addition to Kearney, the Unbarred Community Hall Tour, organized by the Alliance for Historic Wyoming, included spaces in Banner, Big Horn, Dayton and Story.
Caplan believes halls can continue to be a great place to get to know your neighbors, and help communities rebound after a year of COVID public-health restrictions. She and her team of volunteers are now hosting dances, pie auctions, potluck dinners and more.
Tour participants also got to see the parking lots outside halls, where Caplan pointed out women historically tolerated whiskey consumption during music breaks. She added most events put food front and center, and many halls were organized and operated by women's clubs.
"The women ran the halls, that's just what they did," Caplan remarked. "And they were movers and shakers; the social center was centered around the women and their events. If there was a pie auction, women made the pies."
A number of halls in Wyoming were built in the 1930s with Works Progress Administration infrastructure funding under the Roosevelt administration. Most halls these days rely on volunteers from the surrounding area to keep doors open. Caplan noted she could not recall an occasion when anyone turned down an opportunity to lend a hand.
"People seem to be happy to volunteer," Caplan emphasized. "And when they do volunteer, they go, 'Wow, you guys, this is cool.' This is going to be a great space, and I can hardly wait to use it for my grandma's birthday party or whatever they want to do."
get more stories like this via email
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hispanic Heritage Month began this week, and will be celebrated through Oct. 15. Oregon has a rapidly growing Hispanic population…
SILVER SPRING, Md. -- As the Biden administration challenges a Texas law restricting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, Planned Parenthood for …
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Social Security, the program credited with lifting 15 million older residents in Wyoming and across the U.S. out of poverty…
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas has made some changes to its state rent relief program to make it easier to distribute assistance to residents…
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The historic clean-energy bill signed into Illinois law yesterday includes measures from closing coal and natural gas plants by 2…
INDIANAPOLIS -- A new coalition is forming to push back against predatory lending and urge state lawmakers to take action to protect consumers…
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- More than 200 high earners have written a letter urging Congress to raise taxes to help support social safety-net programs that …
Health and Wellness
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Limiting women's access to abortion and other reproductive health care can have a devastating impact on state economies. According …