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Historical Society: Home for seniors was once most hopping place in town



Editor’s Note: The following article was taken from A Guide to Lehi City’s Historical Sites and Places published by the Lehi Historical Preservation Commission in 1997. 

One of the most popular musical groups in the early days of Lehi was the Smuin Brother’s Band, formed by James “Jim” and Joseph Smuin. In 1913, after more than 30 years of playing for dances far and near, Jim decided to build his own dance hall on the [northwest] corner of 200 North and Center.

The grand opening of the Smuin Dancing Academy, with music provided by the seven-piece Smuin Orchestra, was held on Halloween night of 1913. The 62 x 125 ft. building, designed and built by R. Monroe Wilson, was a hit from the start. With 20 ft.-high ceilings, orchestra stand on the north, 25 x 62 ft. gallery on the south and two wide balconies running the length of the building, the place could — and often did — entertain crowds of more than a thousand people.

All possible aspects of creature comfort were considered in the building’s plans. Separate men’s and women’s restrooms, then a relatively unique feature, were built near the south entrance along with a confectionery stand. Fifty windows were installed for ventilation purposes, and a large electric fan was placed on the north wall. Six large ceiling lights and banks of colored globes under the gallery and balcony, all capable of being dimmed, provided the illumination. 

The most attractive feature of the hall was the 48 x 92 ft. spring floor, which was supported by 45 large steel springs. Dancers recall that the floor seemed to sway with the band as though it had life in itself. The Smuin’s Orchestra was best known for its “snappy two-step” music. 

Until the new Lehi High School was completed across the street in 1920, the Smuin Academy hosted all Lehi High School ball games and dances. 

Smuin introduced many innovations and gimmicks to keep the crowds coming. Waltz and foxtrot contests were held. Fancy jewelry was given away, and roller skating was also established. Free lessons were given by Smuin’s sons.

Keith Hunter and M. R. Howard leased the Smuin Dancing Academy in the fall of 1931 and changed the name to the LeVada Hall. Those difficult Depression years were hard, and Hunter and Howard did not renegotiate a 1932 lease. Ernest Larsen picked it up instead and offered a $5 prize to the person submitting the best new name for the hall. The new name became “The DansArt.”


The DansArt management instituted such novelty programs as Balloon Dances, Kiss Dances, Silver Dollar Night and Married Folks Dances. Calico Balls, where prizes were given for the “Most Becoming House Dress and Loudest Shirts,” were an annual affair sponsored by the Mutual Improvement Assoc., of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

During World War II, the DansArt went out of business. To relieve a housing crunch during the post-war years, the building was converted into 20 apartments.

For many years, the complex was known as the DansArt Apartments. The name was later changed to the Royal Arms Apartments and subsequently to the Victorian Apartments. For years, the old dance hall building slowly deteriorated. 

Orem residents Jerry and Judy York purchased the building in 1990. Their $1 million restoration resulted in one of Lehi’s finest historic renovations. The Yorks named the facility Colonial Manor Retirement Inn. It featured 33 apartments for senior citizens and included all amenities to make residential living fully independent.

In 1999, Clint and Heidi Greenwood purchased the business and turned it into Greenwood Manor. In 2005, they added a large north wing with theater, kitchen, chapel and 26 additional rooms for a total of 61 rooms. In 2011, they sold, and the business became Abbington Manor, which operates there today.

To learn more, go to the Lehi Historical Society’s online library at The online library is made possible by a Lehi City PARC grant and support from HADCO Construction.

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