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Jazz Night at Elite Hall, one of Cache Valley’s popular perennial events, returns this week in the run-up to the historic Hyrum dance hall’s long-planned renovation.

Proceeds from the three nightly shows, scheduled Thursday through Saturday, will support the Larry Smith Jazz Scholarship at Utah State University along with restoration of Elite Hall, scheduled to begin in April.

Hyrum Museum Director Jami Van Huss, who has spent the past five years working with the Hyrum Historic Preservation Committee to coordinate the renovation, said the first phase will involve removing paint and restoring the 115-year-old building’s exterior masonry — a delicate process due to the softness of the brick.

“This will be a really a nice catalyst to get everything going,” Van Huss said, explaining that although only about $175,000 of the more than $1 million needed for the renovation has been raised so far, fundraising should pick up considerably from this point forward. She hopes the entire project can be completed by the end of the year.

“The first money is the hardest to get, and now that we have this first investment — and especially since the money has come from local sources — that makes it way more effective to go out to bigger donors and foundations,” she said.

The largest chunk of the initial money, a $125,000 grant, came from the Cache County RAPZ fund, which devotes a small percentage of county sales taxes to valley recreation and cultural projects. The other $50,000 came through a wide variety of other fundraising efforts.

In addition to both exterior and interior beautification, the project will involve making the building handicap accessible, plus upgrading its lighting, heating and cooling systems.

Built in 1915, Elite Hall is home to Utah’s only spring-loaded dance floor.

“The floor still works, the springs are in great shape, everything is in really good shape,” Van Huss said. “We just want to upgrade the building as far as making it efficient … and then just making it elegant and beautiful again like when it was first built.”

Jazz Night is the biggest event of several hosted at Elite Hall every year, attracting hundreds of visitors each night from both inside and outside of Cache Valley.

“Jazz Night is the best. It’s my favorite one. People dress up, the hall is decorated the best, and we have a lot more volunteers available to help,” she said. “It’s nice to bring live music in and really give it that atmosphere of the early 20th century.”

Entertainment this year will be provided by the Utah State University “Big Bands,” directed by Jon Gudmundson and Greg Wheeler. The dances start each night at 7 o’clock, and those arriving an hour early can get free dance lessons from the USU Big Band Swing Club.

Dance tickets are $10. Dinner and dancing is an option on Friday and Saturday nights for $25 combined. Tickets are available at the door using cash or checks only or can be purchased in advance at cca.usu.edu. Elite Hall is located at 98 W. Main St. in Hyrum.

Charlie McCollum is the managing editor of The Herald Journal. He can be reached at cmccollum@hjnews.com or 435-792-7220.

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