Preservation efforts for both the Elite Hall in Hyrum and the Civilian Conservation Corps/Utah State University Forestry Camp in Logan Canyon will be recognized by the Cache Historical Society next week.
“At one time, both of these were slated for demolition,” said Scott Bushman, a longtime society board member and past president.
Each year the Historical Society recognizes preservation efforts in the valley that board members feel went above and beyond.
Bushman said the preservation projects they selected this year are still ongoing, but that board members wanted to recognize the hard work that has already been put in.
“They’ve done a great job, but it’s not finished yet,” Bushman said. “We just wanted to encourage them to keep going.”
Tony Johnson is the owner of Alliance Capital, LLC, the development company doing the restoration work at the old CCC and forestry camp. Johnson said his company has recently focused more on preservation efforts in the valley.
“It’s easier just to tear buildings down and build something new in its place than it is to try and take a building and help preserve it, rebuild it, give it another 100 years of life or whatever it is going to be to preserve it for the community,” Johnson said.
Despite the challenges, Johnson said there is value in preserving historic spaces.
“Communities need to put more of an effort into preserving buildings,” Johnson said. “Too much of it goes by the wayside.”
Jami Van Huss, director of the Hyrum City Museum, said preserving The Elite Hall means preserving a space that is significant to both the community at large and individuals.
“I’ve had tons of people tell me about meeting their spouse at The Elite Hall at events, specifically dances,” Van Huss said. “It’s just a very important place for people to come together.”
In doing the preservation work for the hall, Van Huss said both the cost of the project and community interest for the project have been evaluated.
“It’s important to know that someone is going to care,” Van Huss said. “Why go to all the effort if it is just going to be this really beautiful restored, empty building?”
Johnson said as his company works on projects like the CCC camp, they focus on adaptive reuse, which means they evaluate ways to both preserve the feeling of the old building while ensuring it will have a new, useful purpose.
At the camp, Johnson said the existing structures have been very well preserved, down to some of the lighting and plumbing fixtures and even the flooring.
“If you go and see the buildings, it’s like walking into the 1940s,” Johnson said.
When working on preservation projects, Johnson said people will often share memories or connections they have with the buildings.
Bushman said this is one of the reasons preservation matters — it helps keep stories alive.
“There are a lot of wonderful stories and traditions surrounding that area. It would be a tragedy to lose those stories,” Bushman said.
Van Huss said preservation also helps ensure new stories will be created in the spaces.
“It’s not just a nostalgic place where someone met their spouse 50 years ago, but people are going to come and use the hall, and it is going to continue to be not only a gathering place for the community but a destination for the county and the region,” Van Huss said.
Both Johnson and The Elite Hall Restoration Committee will be recognized by the Historical Society for their preservation efforts at 7 p.m. on May 8 at the Historic Cache County Courthouse, 199 N. Main St., Logan.