Sheridan County Fairground crews are starting the first of a long list of maintenance items that will preserve the historic pavilion and allow the building to become the fairgrounds' second year-round facility.
Fairgrounds Manager Jamie Ringley said workers have already started grading the existing floor so a new concrete floor can be laid. Also on the schedule is replacement of many of the windows that need new glass panes, new doors built to current specifications, a new coat of paint to interior walls and ceilings and repair and replacement of other fixtures in the building.
The fairgrounds manager said eventually radiant heat will have to be installed in the pavilion, but before that can happen, the Fair Association board of trustees that administers the fairgrounds and events there have asked the manager to prepare a business plan. The manager said the pavilion already is in demand for events ranging from weddings to the annual Sugar Bars Legacy horse sale, and requests are increasing.
The pavilion is one of several historic structures on the fairgrounds, built between 1935 and 1939 as a Works Progress Administration project. The Works Progress Administration is better known as the WPA, and was one of the Depression-era programs under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration designed to put people to work. In addition to the pavilion, the stone garage to the west of the building and the stone stables to the south were built at the same time.
The octagonal shape and pyramidal roof of the building, topped by an octagonal “lantern” that served as a ventilator, are representative of a number of WPA fairground structures built in the West, according to an architectural firm that assessed the fairgrounds in 2009. But the local structure is distinctive because it was built of solid sandstone rather than wood.
According to the architectural firm, few modifications appear to have been made to the pavilion, but the original roof was replaced by prefabricated sheet metal around 1998.
Ringley said the current repairs to the structure are “a process,” adding, “They won't happen all at one time.”
But he described it as “a unique venue,” one that's worth preserving. “It's a grand old building,” he said.