EDITOR'S COLUMN | A centennial is a good reason to celebrate

1914 was a big year for the world. Tensions in Europe were high, and the assassination of an Austrian archduke and his wife lit the match for what would become World War I, a bloody conflict that wrought death on a scale previously unimaginable.

More than 15 million people died the globe over.

Yet despite the horror unfolding in the East, a tiny community on Whidbey Island was doing something great, not something to be remembered by the world but something that matters. The Freeland Improvement Society commissioned the building of Freeland Hall.

While it may seem insignificant, the construction of a single building, it is not. Gathering places like the “big brown building on the hill” aren’t just jumbles of wood, they are the places where history is made.

For 100 years, people have convened under that roof to celebrate birthdays, mourn the loss of loved ones, get married, plan picnics or weigh important issues of the day, such as the First Thursday Club’s discussion of “the harm of wearing long skirts.”

Times and topics change but the building has remained and continued to serve as a gathering place for Freeland to ponder its future. In many ways, it’s been one of the vehicles that has made Freeland the community it is today.

Most small communities have them (the Methodist Church in Langley, the recreation hall in Coupeville, etc.) and they all serve the same vital function of community building. Cherish them, for they aren’t just “historical structures” — they are a part of who we are.

Freeland will pay homage to this important structure this weekend with a celebration of the hall’s 100th birthday. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, and include a range of activities: games, a raffle of locally made goodies, a beer and wine garden, hot food and a carnival that will include a bounce castle, cake walk and dunk tank.

Admission is free and a shuttle will be run every 15 minutes from Trinity Lutheran Church to the hall and back, beginning at 10:45 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Freeland Hall is managed by the Holmes Harbor Activities club, and organizers hope the celebration will raise a bit of cash for future events and, most importantly, bring the community together.

Well, that sounds pretty good to me. Count this Freeland resident in.


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