After the projector was shut off for the final time and the curtain was drawn over the screen, three adventurous men, Vern Meissner, Harley Phillips and Ken Syverson purchased the old Woodland Theater and did something unimaginable. These men had dreamed about opening an indoor ski slope where beginners of all ages could learn how to ski. With the help of several silent partners they opened the Woodland Ski Arena in December 1959.
A Seattle Times article, dated February 4, 1960, reports that “the first ski arena with actual real snow is in operation in the old Woodland Theater”. The new owners removed the theater seating, added fiberglass insulation to the walls and used the natural slope of the floor to assist with the design of their hill. The peak of the hill started on the north side of the building and dropped the skier into the former right center aisle of the theater.
They closed off the stage and installed refrigeration machinery, which kept the building at a chilly 30 degrees. They also painted the old theater walls a light blue with snowy white mountain peaks. A truck would arrive daily and dump crushed ice into a grinder at the back doors (east side of building). The grinder would then create the snow needed to keep this wonderland in operation. By February 1960, the Ski Arena had already accumulated two feet of snow. The Woodland Theater must have looked like an Alpine wonderland by the time these men were finished.
See Seattle Times Article from March 1960: http://goo.gl/0lKfcT
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