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The Greenhorn Valley Theater opened twenty years ago in the summer of 1992 with an original play entitled, “Music on the Greenhorn.” The musical was written by Pat Graves, a Pueblo playwright as her sixth commissioned musical drama.
"Music on the Greenhorn”, an historical drama, was about the people who lived in the Greenhorn Valley from 1779 to 1880. Cuerno Verde, a Comanche Indian chief whose father was killed by Spaniards, and Juan Batiste de Anza, governor of the New Mexico Territory, who lost his father to Indian raiders and whom kills Cuerno Verde in battle meet after death and attempt to resolve the conflicts between the newcomers in the area.
"The only way I could bring them together is through the afterlife to discuss this stuff," Mrs. Graves said, explaining the fiction she created for the play. "It's like a fantasy.
The fine line is making history interesting. It's fiction with historical facts woven in."
Clifford Pattison directed the play, and Michael Beck of the University of Southern Colorado recorded Mrs. Graves' music on a synthesizer. Other characters brought to “life” in the play included: George Frederick Ruxton, an English Adventurer and writer, who visited the Greenhorn community many times in his ramblings through the West; Matt Riddlebarger an attorney for the Hicklins and later an area Judge and editor of the Canon City newspaper; and Mr. and Mrs. John Williams, early settlers in the Valley with seven children.
The Greenhorn Valley Players were organized by Cliff and Dorothy Pattison in 1989 as a reader’s theater. Performances were given in the educational building at the Methodist Church, with auditions held in the Pattison’s home.
In 1990, the Players’ purchased the old mercantile building in Rye from Evelyn Dykes. The building needed immediate repairs and had to be outfitted to suit the needs of the theater group. Many fundraisers were held: barbeques, ranchers paid $20 to use their branding iron to burn their brand on the boards of the walls in the theater, community members purchased inscribed blocks for the sidewalk in front of the building and numerous tag sales.
The David and Lucille Packer Foundation awarded the Players’ their first grant. It was used to install bathrooms and a lobby on the east side of the building. Other grants from non-profit organizations and donations followed and along with the proceeds from the plays presented have allowed the group to upgrade the playhouse.
The building stands on what originally was a park, Mae Knox remembered this from about 1917, “I attended a Fourth of July celebration at Rye and for the first time ate mountain trout which Mrs. Bernie Gleason brought to the picnic. This picnic was held in what was then known as the Park—on the corner where the Dykes store now stands.”
In 1925, Hamilton (“Ham” or “H.T.”) Ashley built a store, “The Ashley Lumber and Mercantile on the southeast corner of Main and Boulder. He operated the store and was mayor of Rye from 1937 until 1953. In 1945, he sold the business to his daughter, Evelyn and her husband, M.J. Dykes.