Long history of Freeland Hall recalled at centennial

Susan Fortan decorates a girl
Susan Fortan decorates a girl's hand with paint during the 100-year celebration of Freeland Hall on Aug. 23.
— image credit: Kate Daniel / The Record

Freeland Hall was built as a venue for unity and support in a budding community — a place where the First Thursday Club, which eventually joined with the Community Activity Club to form the existing Holmes Harbor Activities Club, could meet to discuss issues of the day, and a place where hundreds of families would come to gather to celebrate matrimony, important achievements, birthdays and life throughout the years.

On Saturday, Aug. 23, hundreds of South Whidbey community members gathered once again within the hall’s rich brown walls. Their ages were as varied as their memories of events there: weddings, church services, retirement parties, birthdays, and as of that morning, the hall’s 100th anniversary party.

Lively piano melodies drifted from the stage, mixing with the laughter of children and chatter of adults to create a joyous medley.

Donna Chan of Greenbank said she has lived on Whidbey for “some time” and has attended events at Freeland Hall. At one time, she recalled, the Catholic church held masses within its walls on Saturday nights. She said she had also been to a wedding at the hall, adding that she thought it “marvelous” that the hall has been a part of Freeland’s history and community for so many years.

“They’ve taken good care of it. I thought it was going to fall down for a while, but they came to the rescue,” she said.

A steady stream of attendees drifted in and out throughout the day to purchase raffle tickets or food, play Bingo, chat with neighbors and take part in the carnival.

Sharon Anderson, hall co-operator, said the event went “very well” with a consistent flow of visitors and plenty of donations.

Keasha Jennings, co-operator, agreed with Anderson that the event was a success and noted that the guests seemed to enjoy themselves. Both Anderson and Jennings said they hope to hold more community-wide events in the future.

Several raffle items lined the tables, the selection as diverse as the community organizations and individuals responsible for donating them. Gift certificates were available from The Goose, Sebo’s, The Healthy Pet and other businesses. Paintings, stained glass, quilts, foods and more were also available for purchase. All proceeds from tickets went to benefit the hall for future improvements and events.

Children participated in a cake walk, had their faces painted and played games. A dunk tank and bounce house were set up and several vendors including Freeland-founded Whidbey Coffee and the International Order of the Rainbow Girls sold coffee drinks and shaved ice.


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