The American Legion Hall at the Kiowa County Fairgrounds near Eads was a New Deal project built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1937–38. The hall is one of the best-preserved WPA buildings in Eads and remains an important site for community gatherings and entertainment.
The Dust Bowl and the Great Depression hit Colorado’s eastern plains hard in the 1930s. New Deal programs such as the WPA provided jobs in the construction of civic, recreational, and cultural infrastructure in rural towns. On May 17, 1937, the Kiowa County commissioners submitted a WPA project proposal for a community building at the county fairgrounds north of Eads. The building was designed to include a dance hall, stage, and kitchen. The WPA project file stated, “This project will provide a needed building for community gatherings and will give an impetus to social and athletic activities . . . It will be conducive to building up community co-operation, spirit and cheerfulness.”
The building’s cost was estimated at about $6,000, with the county contributing roughly one-third of the funds and the federal government covering the rest. Construction began in July 1938, probably using materials salvaged from old buildings being dismantled at Fort Lyon. By August the building was referred to as American Legion Hall, though it is unknown when the project began to be associated with the American Legion. The hall was completed on October 27, 1938.
The WPA completed a total of six projects in Eads, five buildings and a new sewer system. Four of the five WPA buildings in Eads used native stone, in keeping with the WPA’s emphasis on regional styles, local materials, and labor-intensive construction methods. The exception was the American Legion Hall. A simple rectangular building of white stucco on a wood frame, it is the only known WPA building in southeastern Colorado made of wood rather than stone or adobe.
On October 7, 1938, the town of Eads and Kiowa County held a joint dedication for several of the WPA’s projects in Eads, including the American Legion Hall. Rural residents rode buses to Eads to tour the buildings. The mayor, F. L. Pyles, declared that the WPA buildings were “a monument to the civic pride of a really progressive community.” After the dedication, the American Legion hosted a dinner and dance at the new American Legion Hall to raise money for furniture for the town hall.
The American Legion Hall continues to be used by the American Legion and the county fair.