Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bovina Community Hall

On Sunday, March 20, there will be an open house at the Bovina Community Hall to celebrate the renovation of the kitchen in the basement.  Bovina's Community Hall was built in the spring and summer of 1930, on land donated by the Hilson family.  Before there was a community hall, town meetings and other events took place wherever a venue big enough could be found.  In the town's early history, these meetings often took place in hotels or taverns.  Starting in 1880, meetings were held at "Hastings Hall," now Russell's store, but in 1893, the board voted to switch to Strangeway's Hall (later Thomas's garage, then Bovina Motor Works and now owned by Tom Hetterich).   Strangeway's was used for many years for town meetings and other public events.  In 1907, the Bovina Town Board expressed concern that the hall did not have a fire escape.  A.T. Strangeway appeared before the board in January 1907, explaining that he would need more rent if this improvement was to be made.  The board agreed to pay $45 a year for the hall if a sufficient exit and stairway five feet wide were built.  The last year the town paid for use of the old Strangeway's Hall, now owned by Kenneth Kaufman and called Kaufman's Hall, was in 1929. 

It took some effort to get the community hall constructed.  Two sites were considered.  One was offered by Carrie Doig and was across from the old Strangeway's Hall.  The other was across from the new home recently built by William Archibald (now owned by Gert Hall).  The plans for construction were approved in late 1927.  The town voted to raise $1000 by tax in the current year, with the balance of $4000 to be borrowed. In February of 1928, two bids were received for the construction of the Community Hall and both were considerably higher than the $5,000 budgeted - $9,850 and $14,500, so the issue was tabled.  In late 1929, Howard Currie met with Robert Doonan about building the community hall.  In March 1930, Doonan's bid of  $7,500 was accepted.  Actual construction started on April 14, with a crew of six men.  In July, John and Helena Hilson and James Hilson deeded over to the town the land across from William Archibald's for the new Community Hall.  At a meeting later that year, the town board designated the new community hall as the polling station.  At the same meeting, the supervisor was authorized to purchase 100 chairs for the hall. 

In October 1933, the Tunis Camp Fire Girls received a $975 bequest from the late Anna Scott specifically to make improvements to the Community Hall.  The town board passed a resolution allowing the group to contract with Robert Doonan to build two 10 x 24 dressing rooms, to put a concrete floor in the basement and to install two toilets in the basement, as well as have water piped into the community hall for said toilets. 

Some other activities in the early life of the community hall include:
  • In January 1932, the board voted to set the salary of the "Janitor of the Town Hall" at $75 per annum.  In April, the board raised that to $100, deeming that $75 was insufficient for the work to be done.  
  • The board voted to forbid smoking in the community hall at their April 12, 1935 meeting.  The janitor was to enforce this rule.
  • Town accounts in 1936 include $3.50 for piano tuning and $125 to C.W. Hill for painting the hall.
  • In November 1941, the board authorized the Recreation Club to make some needed improvements to the Community Hall.  The Town Clerk was instructed to post a notice in the hall with a fee structure.  Dances would be $5 and basketball would be $3.50 (but practicing for basketball would be only $1).  Town shows were set at $3.50 but out of town shows would be a dollar more.  All doings when admission is charged would be $2.  Town business would continue to be free, however.
  • In June 1942, the board chose the Community Hall to serve as an airplane observatory 'for the duration.'  The town would provide a telephone and all needed appliances unless the county agreed to pay for these.
Stayed tuned for another entry about the Community Hall on March 31 - specifically, a poem written by David Currie and read by Vera Storie when the hall was dedicated in the fall of 1930. 

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