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Freeland Hall still a community affair after 100 years

 The Freeland Hall 100th anniversary planning committee from left to right: Gabriele Delon, Catherine Rawlings, Charlene Miller, Sharon Anderson, Keasha Jennings, Sophia Jennings, Mary Poolman, Lavena Declercq, Gunda Vesque. - Kate Daniel / The Record
The Freeland Hall 100th anniversary planning committee from left to right: Gabriele Delon, Catherine Rawlings, Charlene Miller, Sharon Anderson, Keasha Jennings, Sophia Jennings, Mary Poolman, Lavena Declercq, Gunda Vesque.
— image credit: Kate Daniel / The Record

Freeland Hall, known to many as “the big brown building on the hill,” turns 100 this month.

The Freeland Improvement Society originally commissioned the hall to be built, with the help of the First Thursday Club, in August 1914. Volunteer laborers had completed the project by the following spring. In the beginning, the hall was a community meeting place for groups like the First Thursday Club, whose early meeting minutes included such topics as “the harm of wearing long skirts” and “property rights of women in Washington State.” Various groups continued to use the hall for meetings and events, and in 2004 the hall was officially designated a historic site by the state.

“What we’re trying to do is get the public aware of Freeland Hall,” said Sharon Anderson, co-operator of Freeland Hall. “It’s not just the big brown building sitting up on the hill.”

A free-admission anniversary celebration will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23. Festivities include games, a raffle for local goods such as stained glass and wood art and gift certificates, a beer and wine garden, food provided by Freeland Café and other island vendors and a carnival which will include a bounce castle, cake walk and dunk tank. A shuttle will be running every 15 minutes from Trinity Lutheran Church to the hall and back, beginning at 10:45 a.m. until 6 p.m.

“Our goal is to raise money for future events, to bring our community together and really utilize the hall,” said Keasha Jennings, co-operator. “We’re a small community and we rely on each other and our local businesses and it’s important to remember that.” Contributed photo | The First Thursday Club of 1904. First Row: Mrs. Braker, Mrs. S. S. Long, Grandma Cushing, Fannie Croyle. Second Row: Mrs. E. E. Sanford, Mrs. Pierson, Mary E. Lovejoy (Later Mrs. LeGrave), Mrs. Gearhart, Mrs. Cook, Clara Mewyer, Minnie Staiff. Third Row: Minnie Jones, Bertine Croyle.

During the summer months, the hall is typically booked for weddings and receptions. But for the remainder of the year, it often sits empty aside from the occasional retirement or birthday party or memorial service. Jennings and Anderson would like to see that change and are contemplating the possibility of game nights or Halloween and Christmas celebrations for kids in the newly renovated downstairs room.

The hall is owned by Island County but managed by the Holmes Harbor Activity Club. Jennings explained that the money earned from regular events such as weddings and receptions typically covers the overhead costs of the hall but leaves little for improvements. By throwing the 100-year anniversary party, she and Anderson hope to raise money for future hall improvements in order to “make people’s events even more special” and ensure that the hall can be utilized for many years to come.

“It is important because as a small community we rely on each other and we don’t rely on Big Benjamin [money] or the big buildings to really push us through,” said Jennings, adding that she would like to eventually start a scholarship through Freeland Hall in order to give back to the community.

For more information about the hall and the 100th anniversary celebration, visit www.freelandhall.org.

 

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