Big Piney Community
"Since early times, a central hall has been an integral part of a community, and the folks of Big Piney with a hot desire for keeping up with things, were not one whit behind in thinking that one was essential--more so, in fact, than electricity or water or even indoor plumbing." - Wilda Springman, 1959, in "Community Halls Are As Community Halls Do"
The Big Piney Community Hall was built in 1934 at the site where the elementary school is now located in Big Piney, Wyoming. In 1961, it was moved to the Sublette County Fair Grounds just north of Marbleton and is still used today for community functions and as part of the Sublette County Fair held each year in August.
Sublette County Fairgrounds, Wyoming
Over the course of the years, Big Piney had several community halls. In the 1930's, with Works Projects Administration (WPA) funds, the residents of Big Piney built a new Community Hall where the current elementary school sits. It was built with volunteer labor with logs that were brought down from Middle Piney by horse team and sled as far as the sand hill and then transferred to trucks for the rest of the way.
The townspeople spent considerable time debating where their new Community Hall should be located, and it was finally decided that it should be built close to the school. While this was a good location in theory, the ground at that spot was a bog hole in the spring, "unsafe for man or car." The men in the community took this as a challenge and drove huge pilings into the bedrock to hold the weight of the building. The large, new building was made of rough logs and had a stage and dressing rooms. Two over-sized pot bellied stoves provided heat and a string of lights provided illumination. The new building was quickly adopted by the community and by the late 1930's was used for all community events, most of which usually ended up with a dance. "Back in '36 everything we did ended up in a dance--be it a political rally, a school play, amateur hour or what have you. I would venture to say that there was more dancing in Big Piney per capita from '36 to '40 than there was in New York City" wrote Wilda Springman in "Community Halls Are As Community Halls Do" in 1959, which was reprinted in the book "Seeds ke Dee Reflections" by the Sublette County Artists Guild in 1985.
In the late 1940's, the building was renovated by the Lion's Club. The walls and ceiling were lined with sheetrock, a kitchen and bathrooms were added, and the old pot belly stoves were replaced with a furnace. They also added new light fixtures, a new door, and a new roof.
During this time, the Lion's Club decided to sponsor a sale of all of the 4-H Club livestock. The first sale was in the Mercantile shop, but due to lack of room, the Community Hall was converted and used the next year. A large door was cut in one end and an alley way added for the livestock. With an auctioneer's stand, bleachers, and some straw on the floor, this was the forerunner of what is now the annual Sublette County Fair.
In order to build a new elementary school, the Community Hall's fate came into great debate. The new school had to be located near the other schools, and the best place was right where the Community Hall sat. Some towns people wanted to tear it down and sell the logs for a profit to build a new hall. Others would hear nothing of the idea of tearing it down. Ultimately, Bus Fear suggested that the Hall should be moved to the fair grounds, close to where
the rodeo arena had been built. In June of 1961, a mover from Idaho was contracted to move the big building up the highway from Big Piney to the fair grounds for a sum of $500. Despite dire predictions of it never surviving the move, the building did arrive intact and is still there today. The Community Hall has since undergone several renovations inside and out, and is still used for many events including the exhibits at the Sublette County Fair which it helped start back in the 40's.
Today, the Community Hall is used during Big Piney Chuckwagon Days, held every 4th of July at the fair grounds. This is a major annual event for the Big Piney and Marbleton areas, with tourists from all over also attending the free town picnic and barbecue, parade, dance and fireworks celebration.
The Sublette County Fair is held the first week in August each year at the fair grounds. Each year the Community Hall houses the many creative efforts of the local community. Hand-crafted quilts, crafts, needlepoint, paintings, sewing projects and culinary delights are on display for judging and for the public to view.
Community Hall maintained by:
This web page is the companion of a brochure sponsored by the Sublette County Historic Preservation Board that highlights four historic community buildings within Sublette County. Brochure and web site created by Wind River Web Services and Sublette.com in Pinedale, Wyoming.
This project was financed in part with funds granted to the Sublette County Historic Preservation Board from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior. The Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office administers these federal funds as part of Wyoming's Certified Local Government program. This program receives Federal financial assistance for identification and protection of historic properties. The contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U. S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, handicap or age in its federally assisted programs. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, National Park Service, P.O. Box 37127, Washington, D.C. 20013-7127.