Skyline Theater project off to a reel-ly good start


PINEDALE – About a dozen history and

film buffs met Tuesday evening, setting the

scene to buy, renovate and revive the historic

Skyline Theater building downtown and turn

it into a uniquely local landmark.

The long-term project kicked off earlier this

year with Main Street Pinedale’s announcement

to fund-raise the building’s $170,000

purchase price, but concerns led to a brief suspension.

Picking it up with the Nov. 27 reorganizational

meeting, former Main Street Pinedale’s

board members Kate Dahl and Tara Bing

Horn, along with about a dozen others, met at

Sublette BOCES to talk about how to carry the

project forward on its own.

With the draft business plan, preliminary

renovation estimates, Facebook page, promotional

video and an intent to purchase already

in place, the immediate goals are to firm up the

fundraising campaign and outline the process.

The old Skyline Theater at 14 N. Franklin

Ave. was operated from 1940 into the 1980s

when it closed. Walt Sondgeroth bought it and

opened as Walt’s Plumbing in 1986. While

the exterior is simple, Walt’s son Joe saved

many of the memorabilia and everyday theater

items – even old metal film reels and the

original popcorn machine. Outdoorsy backlit

silhouettes that once lined the walls are also

in storage.

At Tuesday’s meeting, historian and au

thor Ann Chamber Noble offered use of “her”

501(c)3 nonprofit, Sublette Group for Community

Initiative, of which she and her daughter

Andrea are board members. Both agreed to

create a new board to make the Sublette Group

the financial and decision-making entity for

the Skyline Theater project.

This nonprofit will receive and hold all of

the donations and grants, whether from local

or corporate donors.

Noble remains president, Tara Bing Horn is

vice president, Synve Mitchell is secretary and

Kate Dahl is treasurer. The next topic was to

kick off a timely campaign to buy the building

and provide matches for future grants.

After buying the old theater, it could take

as much as $1 million to renovate the Skyline

Theater into a multi-faceted entertainment

center showing second-run, documentary,

outdoor adventure and independent films,

holding live performances and hosting local

nonprofit events. Educational elements might

be displays of the antique equipment, old photographs

and stories about how Skyline fit into

locals’ lives. Mary Lynn Worl, for example,

related that on its opening two girls wearing

white cowboy boots and hats served as “ushers.”

Now, the Skyline Theater has been nominated

for the National Register of Historic

Places.

Fundraising is the new committee’s most

important objective, they decided, with donation

mailers, a crowd-funding platform and

special campaign to engage donors.

To be tax-exempt, donations should be

made to the Sublette Group for Community

Initiative with “Skyline Theater” noted.

Bringing volunteers together is also vital,

they said. Anyone with interests and abilities

to help with fundraising, grant writing, event

planning, public relations, programming, project

management and construction is welcome

to join the Skyline Theater committee at the

next meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 4 p.m. at

the Museum of the Mountain Man.

For more about the Skyline Theater project,

contact Kate Dahl at [email protected]

gmail.com. n

Background

The Skyline Theatre (original spelling) was

built on the site of Pinedale’s founder John F.

Patterson’s home, which it replaced. It opened

in September of 1940 and upon its opening, the

Pinedale Roundup  reported Aug. 29, 1940:

“The beautiful interior is indirectly lighted

from each side of the upper portion of each

wall. Silhouettes depicting mountain scenery,

winter sports, hunting and fishing and other

recreational facilities adjacent to Pinedale, lend

local color to the interior decorations. A raised

floor and comfortable furniture makes theatre

going a pleasure. Acoustics are excellent, as the

building was designed for sound equipment.”

This new movie house was said to be

a large improvement over the wooden

benches and folding chairs at Wilson Hall,

where movies had shown for the previous

14 years. It opened with 375 seats.

A story in the Pinedale Roundup  dated

Dec. 31, 1953, was titled “Hayes Buys

Skyline Theatre” reported Joseph “Joe”

Beal Lunbeck (Nov. 16, 1916 to Aug.

14, 2003) and his wife Madeline Adney

Bolinger Lunbeck, who died in 2007,

owned and operated the Skyline Theatre

for 18 years. Alice M. Bolinger was a longtime

employee of the Skyline Theatre who

was fondly known as “the ticket lady” for

that reason. n

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