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
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
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]
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