After three years of work, Lodore Hall in Browns Park has been restored.
The Brown's Hole Home-makers Club and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service led the restoration effort of the social hall and former school located 80 miles west of Craig on Colorado Highway 318.
The Homemakers Club plans to celebrate the restoration with a free lunch April 16, from noon to 4 p.m. The club will serve turkey, ham and all the fixings.
Almost everything, from the floor to the roof, is new, said Jerry Rodriguez, manager of Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge.
But the State Historical Preservation Office approved every upgrade, he said.
The only drastic modification was made on the roof, which was replaced with steel shingles for fire protection. In 2000 and 2001, wildfires burnt near enough to the hall that hot embers fell on the roof. It's a wonder the building didn't burn down, Rodriguez said.
All the old wiring was removed and the electrical system was upgraded to meet building codes. The wood stove was replaced with another turn-of-the-century wood stove found in Steamboat Springs. The old stove had a cracked flue, leading the contractor who installed it to wonder that the old stove didn't burn the building down, Rodriguez said.
The building was insulated and re-sided with cedar. It's been made accessible to those with disabilities, and heated toilets were built outside.
The hall was built in 1911, but it was known as the Lodore School then, according to information from the Brown's Hole Homemakers Club. Winnie Denny was the school's first teacher. She earned $65 a month and had one student, until Frank Meyers built a cabin nearby. His children tripled the school's attendance.
But the school was always opening and closing. Twenty children attended in 1913, but five years later it closed and didn't reopen until 1921. It closed again six years later and stayed closed until 1943.
Regardless of the school's status, dances were held at the hall from the time of its construction. Alcohol was prohibited, and cowboys checked their guns at the door, which was manned by a large local rancher who served as bouncer.
In 1955, the Brown's Hole Home Demonstration Club took responsibility for the hall. That club is now known as the Homemakers Club. They still host dances and quilt raffles each year to raise money for maintenance projects at the hall and support community activities.
Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.