Residents of Dayville recently received great news — their century-old Community Hall will receive a major facelift thanks to a $1.45 million federal grant.

“This has been a dream of the people of Dayville for many years, for us to have a meeting place to hold community events and socialize,” Mayor Ilah Bennett said. “We are all looking forward to the day that our community hall can be used year-round. We still have a long way to go, but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.”

Grants and fundraisers have supported architectural studies over the past two decades with the goal of finding a right-sized solution to restoring the deteriorating 4,513-square-foot building.

A 1999 assessment was updated in 2009 and again nine years later by Pinnacle Architecture. That work backed a successful application for the $1.45 million Community Development Block Grant.

“Renovating the hall has been the talk of our town for decades,” City Recorder Ruthie Moore said. “It was known that restoring this grand old building was going to cost a considerable amount more than our small town could afford, but with a determination to do what we could, countless fundraisers have taken place throughout the years.”

Local history

“The Dayville Community Hall is and has been the heart of the Dayville community for the past 99 years, and if old, weathered wood walls could talk, that building would indeed have quite a story to tell,” Moore said.

The hall’s story began in 1920 when 87 locals bought $25 shares in the Hall Company, a nonprofit organized to build a community hall in Dayville. Lumber was brought in from Flat Creek, 10 miles away, windows were shipped in by mule train and locals volunteered to erect and finish the building.

“The Community Hall in Dayville was the crowning achievement of a community that came together to create a communal space that could be enjoyed for decades,” grant-writing consultant Nicholas Ducote said in the application.

Small cities and communities sprouted across Oregon during the lumber boom of the early 20th century, but many vanished after the local mills either downsized or shut down. Resilient cities like Dayville, however, continued to thrive.

“It is rare to find a building that embodies the living nature of history that can continue to empower a community for almost 100 years after the construction of the building,” Ducote said.

The first event held at the Dayville Community Hall was the 1920 Armistice Day Dance, which continued to be held for several decades. Silent movies accompanied by piano drew crowds, as did basketball games illuminated by kerosene lamps — spectators assisted by putting out fires when balls hit the lamps.

Dayville high school students presented two plays on the hall’s stage each year, including a Christmas program where each child received a gift from Santa Claus.

The hall served as a box factory during World War II, and “talkies” replaced silent movies in the postwar years. The Scotch American Dance, held between Christmas and New Year’s, was a main event for the community right up into the 1960s.

Since its construction, the Dayville Community Hall has provided space for a skating rink, voting center, Halloween carnivals, community dances, wedding receptions, memorials, dance recitals, community potlucks, parties and meetings.

“Speaking on behalf of the Dayville City Council, I would like to express our appreciation and gratitude to the Dayville Community Hall Renovation Committee and our residents and businesses who have contributed over and over again, event after event, year after year, all in the name of making money for this project,” Moore said.

Restoration

Because of its historic status, the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office has been involved in planning for the hall, coordinating with both the city and Pinnacle Architecture.

The main building was considered to be in relatively good shape, but it needed new electrical wiring and a new heating, cooling and ventilation system. The stage is in good shape, but the balcony and stairs will need structural repairs. Interior wall and floor finishes are in good shape and will be preserved.

Major improvements to the hall will include removing the existing roof sheathing and installing pre-manufactured trusses and new roofing. The exterior siding also will be removed, allowing electrical work and insulating before new sheathing and siding is installed.

The addition built in the 1950s is in poor condition, which has made use of the kitchen and restrooms impossible in cold weather. The addition will be torn down and replaced with a new structure that will include a commercial-grade kitchen, ADA-compatible restrooms and a lobby space.

As per preservation office advice, the new addition will be designed to look differently than the rest of the building. Plaques describing the original hall will be hung, and the lobby area will house historical artifacts such as the antique wood cook stove and movie projector.

Other awards

A total of $4.11 million in CDBG funds was awarded to one county and four city projects in the second round of 2018 applications. Projects in Grant County received $3.14 million, or 76 percent of the total.

The Heart of Grant County, a nonprofit domestic trauma service center, was awarded $1.5 million for construction of Meredith House, a combined shelter and office facility to be built in John Day.

The shelter will offer living quarters for victims of domestic violence and abuse, including families with children. This will include three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small kitchen, a living room and a secure private outside space with designated play and pet areas.

The office facilities will include private offices for advocates, visiting attorneys and counselors; computer workstations for victims’ use; a playroom for children; and a combined conference room and kitchen area for group activities. A secure garage with hidden parking will be provided for victims.

“The Heart of Grant County Domestic Trauma Facility is an example of outstanding team work,” board member Rick Minster said. “Grant County Economic Development did an exemplary job of putting the application together. A number of county, state, and federal departments assisted in the application, the environmental assessment and cultural review, which were also submitted with the application. The facility will be an important addition to the community, and many organizations pulled together to make the project happen.”

The city of John Day received $196,500 to help pay for design and engineering for a new wastewater treatment plant that will produce reclaimed water. The existing treatment plant needs to be replaced for the city to remain compliant with environmental regulations.

Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at rick@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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