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Restore or Build New? Debate Divides Small WYO Community

November 30, 2009

RECLUSE, Wyo. - The costs keep rising - along with tempers - in the small, northeastern Wyoming community of Recluse. Residents have been gathering donations and grants to restore the community hall, but when projected expenses rose, some abandoned the idea in favor of replacing it with a new building.

Mary Humstone, vice president of the Alliance for Historic Wyoming, says the original structure is an example of a community united, not divided. Local residents built it in the 1930s, using logs from the Powder River Breaks, she explains.

"It's a place where the community is able to come together and really practice what it means to be a community: have dances, have potluck dinners, have community meetings."

Historic structures provide a sense of place, which is hard to put a price tag on, Humstone adds.

"There's something really valuable about a place. A building like this can link members of a community, can link generations within a community."

While some think that Recluse could have a new community hall and restore the old one, Humstone says there just isn't enough money to do both at this point, and most of the funds raised so far are dedicated to restoration.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY