The Elite Hall dance hall, designed by architect K.C. Schaub and constructed in 1917, is significant for its association with community events in the city of Hyrum. Financed by the Hyrum Amusement Company, Elite Hall became the primary dancing and social events center in Hyrum, after replacing the 1889 Opera Hall, which was destroyed by fire in 1914. The building is also significant because it is one of only a couple of known remaining dance halls in the state with a spring-loaded dance floor. The springs provided extra bounce for the hundreds of dancers who would crowd the floor. Because Elite Hall had the only spring-loaded floor in northern Utah, the building attracted dancers from all over Cache County and northern Utah.
At the time of Elite Hall’s construction, commercial-type buildings typically displayed little ornamentation. However, modest Prairie School-style detailing adds character to this large structure. Prairie School elements are found in the large frieze that encircles the top of the building with bracket-like ornamentation. They are also found in the long vertical inset panels on the primary façade, which counter the frieze and add an element of height to the building. Elite Hall’s imposing presence on Main Street, its Prairie School-style detailing, and historical integrity combine to make it one of the most prominent buildings in town.
Located at 98 West Main Street in Hyrum, Utah and listed on the National Register of Historic Places (#03000736) on August 4, 2003.
The Elite Hall dance hall, constructed in 1917, is significant under Criteria A and C. Under Criterion A it is significant for its association with community events in the small town of Hyrum, Utah. After replacing the opera hall (which was destroyed by fire in 1914), Elite Hall became the primary dancing and social events center in Hyrum. Also, because it had the only spring-loaded dance floor in northern Utah, the hall attracted dancers from all over Cache County and northern Utah. Because it is one of only two known remaining dance halls in the state with a spring-loaded floor, Elite Hall is also significant under Criterion C. 1 The hall’s imposing presence on Main Street, along with its Prairie School-style detailing and historical integrity combine to make it one of the most prominent commercial buildings in town. Elite Hall greatly contributes to the historical fabric of Hyrum, Utah.
The Elite Hall dance hall, constructed in 1917, is a large, two-story, two-part commercial-block building constructed of brick with a fairly large 70′ x 122′ footprint on a raised concrete foundation. Although the building is basically commercial in design there are elements that hint at the Prairie School style. The building is painted a light grey color and sits on the corner of a city lot with virtually no setback from the sidewalk on either side. A single-story commercial building abuts it on the east, but the majority of historical commercial buildings that accompanied it on the block have been razed or altered.
The south facing primary façade of Elite Hall is organized in a bilaterally symmetrical, tripartite fashion with the center section slightly stepped back from the two side sections. The centrally place entry area features a large, hipped-roof canopy, supported on two square stuccoed columns, that extends out over the sidewalk. The canopy is not historic and replaces an arched canopy that is visible in a 1946 photograph. The two inset entryways are comprised of two flanking sets of double doors. The half-glass doors feature three stacked, horizontal panes. The inset doorways allow for a ticket booth at right angles of each doorway. Above the entry on the second floor are two flanking sets of coupled windows. The windows feature a tall top pane over a shorter one that has been replaced with sliding windows. All windows on the building are similar to this and feature heavy concrete sills. On this center section, the fenestration and entry are surrounded by a projecting brick framework that corbels out to a cornice at the top of the panel. A small circular element is found at the top corners just inside the framework. Also, below each second story window is a smaller rectangular brick enframed panel, the same width as each window.
The projecting sections on each end of this façade are identical and are comprised of two sets of coupled windows, vertically placed one above the other. These are also set in a projecting brick framework corbels out at the top and also has the circular design elements. The windows are similar to those on the rest of the building. Dividing the top set of windows from the bottom is a projecting rectangular brick framework, like that in the center section. A prominent design feature is also found on these two sections, a long, narrow vertical inset panel that reaches from the center of the first-floor window to the top of the window above. At the bottom is a projecting brick sill. These elements, and other similar elements, provide a reference to the Prairie School style. Above the window panel and running along the south fa9ade to the west fa9ade is a wide, corbelled frieze that projects above the roof as a parapet. The only other decorative treatment on the building is a patterned element of the frieze in the form of small, projecting I and [-] shaped designs, located between projecting brick stringcourses and running along the south and west facades. All of the architectural embellishments are painted a contrasting dark grey color.
The south (secondary façade) is also a bilaterally symmetrical, tripartite arrangement; however, this façade is much wider and has no entryway. As on the main façade, the center section is book-ended by two projecting sections. The center section is much wider than the two end sections and has four windows (similar to those on the front of the building) on each level. Each of the projecting end sections features a set of coupled windows on each level. Flanking each window is a narrow vertical inset panel, similar to the larger ones on the front, only each one is the height of the window. The coupled window opening on the right side of this façade has been filled in with brick.
The north (rear) façade is a blank wall with two centrally placed doorways, one on each floor with the bottom one being raised. Separate metal stairways provide access to each entrance. Also visible on the left of this elevation is a square, brick chimney projecting from the northeast corner of the building. The east façade is partially obscured on the main level by the adjacent commercial building that covers part of the wall. This building extends back about half the length of Elite Hall. The visible portion of this façade features two windows, one on each level, just right of center. There is also a similar window left of center on the second level. Another set of windows at the far right of this elevation was bricked in at an unknown time.
The interior of the building is open to the ceiling with a circular mezzanine surrounding the dance floor at the second story. Surrounding the mezzanine is a more recent metal balustrade; also, the mezzanine floor has been new carpet. An interior stairway accesses the mezzanine at the front of the building with restrooms and some office space located here as well. The floor of the hall is maple-typical of gymnasiums. But what is not typical is that it is actually supported on a network of springs resting on the main floor. The spring-loaded floor was unique to this hall and provided more bounce for dancers. The portion of the floor supported by the springs sits in from the walls approximately four feet and is raised up a few inches. The perimeter floor is solid with benches located along the walls.
The building is surrounded by a concrete sidewalk on the south and west sides and has a large asphalt parking area behind and to the east. There is no landscaping or any natural feature on the property. However, because of its location in the commercial center of the city, there probably was no landscaping historically. The building retains its architectural integrity and is a prominent contributing historical resource in Hyrum, Utah.
In 1889 Soren Hansen began construction of an opera house in Hyrum. The opera house was to act as both a musical and theatrical venue as well as a dance hall on the upper level; general merchandise stores would occupy the lower level. The opera house became so popular that young people traveled from all over Cache Valley to attend dances there. Unfortunately, the building was destroyed by a fire in 1914, but almost immediately plans were made to build a new dance hall on the same site.
The Hyrum Amusement Company was formed in 1915 and purchased two parcels of land, the first in January of 1915 and the second in February of the same year. The company took a mortgage of $8,000 from the Deseret Saving Bank on November 11, 1915. Stock was then sold to roughly thirty different members of the community to help with the construction costs of the hall – the remaining $12,000 of the estimated $20,000 required to build hall was raised by selling these shares at $100 a piece. C.A Nielsen was elected president; CJ. Christiansen was elected vice-president, and Alfred Fallows elected secretary and treasurer of the company.
The construction of Elite Hall began in 1916 with AJ. Peterson as the construction supervisor; he was also responsible for design of the floor plan.5 K.C. Schaub, a well-known Utah architect who also designed the McCune School of music (Alfred & Elizabeth McCune Mansion, National Register listed in 1974) and the
Thomas Kearns Mansion (National Register listed in 1970), was the architect.6 Elite Hall was one of only a two known spring-loaded dance floors in Utah. The dance floor is actually a separate platform elevated off the main floor a few inches by springs. This causes the floor to move beneath ones feet giving the dancers an actual spring to their step. The building itself is constructed of a steel frame with brick veneer and has a footprint measuring 70 x 122 feet, making Elite Hall one of the largest dance halls in Utah. The size of the hall along with the spring floor made the hall even more popular than its predecessor had been.
Elite Hall opened on July 24, 1917, to a crowd estimated at 1400; 412 tickets were sold for the dance that was held that evening. Although the hall was popular and boasted great success, the Hyrum Amusement Company never turned a profit on the hall as they had initially hoped. After a few years the company found itself in financial trouble and eventually on the brink of bankruptcy. In 1924 Willard and Eugene Petersen (Willard already being a share holder) stepped in and offered to purchase the hall from the majority of the remaining shareholders. Willard and Eugene offered those shareholders who wished to remain to do so and possibly recoup some of their losses. Only two shareholders are known to have stayed, H.R. Adams and a Mr. Hanson. With Willard as the major stockholder the Hyrum Amusement Company ceased to exist anywhere except on paper, therefore there are no minutes recorded after August 16, 1916.
Willard then took on the task of managing Elite Hall full time. He booked bands to play and had the hall opened two to three nights a week for dancing, as well as roller-skating. Willard continued to run the hall until his wife, Kate, who was not fond of dancing, objected to the time he spent at the hall and insisted that he hire a different manager. Over time Willard became less and less involved in the management of the hall until he and his brother sold it. The Peterson’s sold Elite Hall to the city of Hyrum on December 29, 1934, for $5,000. The city has remained the owner and proprietor of the hall ever since. It now functions as a basketball court and still occasionally a dance hall.