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Ready for dancing: Fairview restores historic hall

Published: Monday, Jan. 31 2011 9:45 p.m. MST

Nearly restored Fairview dance hall.

Christian Probasco

FAIRVIEW — There are still burn marks on the floor at Fairview's historic dance hall.

Though the building has undergone a complete restoration, Fairview city planner Dave Taylor made sure to preserve the spot where a wood stove once warmed the building.

"I told (our contractors) not to sand out any of the history," he said.

Most of what locals remember about the hall — lighting, steel roof beams, wall mirrors, benches and the cupped bandstand above the west end — has been restored to the original condition. And now, the historic dance hall — built in 1927 — is open again as a major community entertainment venue.

The Lionel L. and Clista Lasson Peterson Dance Hall — named for the parents of Cleone Eccles, wife of Spencer Eccles, chairman of the George and Dolores Eccles Foundation — has been restored and has already hosted a Christmas party, theater rehearsals and the awards ceremony for Fairview's outstanding volunteers.

It will be officially dedicated on Feb. 4.

Taylor said city officials wanted to create a first-class entertainment center that would attract performers from everywhere in the nation. He said the newly refurbished and expanded hall would work for parties, meetings, weddings, conventions and movie showings, as well as the same kinds of dances that made the hall famous.

It also preserves a vital part of Fairview's history: a place where courtships began, friendships grew into lifelong relationships and sweet memories were made. It was a place of socializing where "no drinking, no smoking and no cussing" was allowed, according to the contract signed between officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the city of Fairview when it was deeded to the city.

As part of the restoration effort, a large addition was made to the building's east side, which includes a new stage with banks of lights and a powerful, high-fidelity sound system, as well as a high-definition video projector, dressing rooms equipped with flat-screen televisions, storage areas, a kitchen and a high-ceiling basement.

"We've got six 800-watt speakers and two big woofers," Taylor said. "You can run up to 24 microphones through the studio. We're set up for Internet, cable and Wi-Fi feeds. We can handle any kind of production."

The brick building, which was built around the floor of a wood-frame dance hall known as the Eclipse Pavilion (built in 1895 and later torn down after it was deemed a fire hazard), was completely overhauled. The electrical, plumbing and heating systems were modernized. The roof was replaced and the walls were retrofitted to withstand an earthquake. The original maple dance floor was restored.

Taylor said he was originally hesitant about restoring the building. A documentary of residents' reminiscences about the hall by local filmmaker Bill Raddatz changed his mind.

"After I saw that," Taylor said, "I said, 'We can't not restore the hall.'"

Eddie Cox, chairman of the restoration committee, was given one of the Shining Star Awards in the almost-finished hall Dec. 18.

"There's a pioneer spirit here," Cox said as he accepted the award. "I can feel it."

After the ceremony, Cox gave much of the credit for the restoration to Taylor. He said Taylor kept the project on track and tended to the critical details.

Taylor said the committee asked for the best and so the city gave them the best.

"The hall should be good for another 150 years," Taylor said.

If you go ...

What: Peterson Dance Hall dedication

When: Feb. 4, 6 p.m., followed by an open house from 7:30-9 p.m.

Where: Main Street, Fairview

Sharon Haddock is a professional freelance writer with 30 years experience, 17 of those at The Deseret News. She has a personal blog called Grandma's Place: http://sharonhaddock.blogspot.

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