By Jasmine Willis
SPRINGWATER — There is a whole generation that has fond memories of what life was like at the old town hall before it had its doors closed for good.
Springwater-Webster Crossing Historical Society held an open house on Sept. 24 to showcase the new exhibit featuring old town hall memorabilia.
Brenda Haywood, Joyce O’Neil, and SWCHS President Donna Walker were among those who worked on the exhibit. The town board had given permission for the museum to take the artifacts found within the old town hall to put on display for all to see. Councilman Pat Wilsea has been instrumental in making this happen as she was one of them who went in to gather the artifacts.
There were some glass negatives brought in that were being displayed on a screen for those to point out who the people were. The museum would like anyone who can name the individuals in the old photos to let them know.
The old town hall display is in the Carriage House building, which was built to provide extra room for the carriage. The carriage and two buggies built in Springwater are also in the exhibit. One is a E.W. Doolittle and the other is from Springwater Hardware and Furniture.
“The whole purpose we got a grant for this building was because a man had donated a carriage to us a long time ago, and he had come here wanting to see it on display. We wanted a place to show it,” Haywood said. “We have a lot of items from the old town hall. We have a section of the original stage curtain. All the kids in town would go there to skate, dance, and play basketball. We have the roller skates from that time. We have the chairs the girls would sit in at the dances.”
Haywood said the medical tools had been on loan there at the old town hall for a long time, and now they are on display in the exhibit.
Walker said the museum had been working on this exhibit for a couple of years.
“The old town hall artifacts came from the town board. It was really used as a community center for years,” she said. “I had to laugh when they brought in the steel tub. I remember as a kid I would go there to bob for apples in this tub. People remember square dancing and having roller skating parties there. We have the original Dance Sign that shows round dancing and square dancing from the 50s and 60s. The Boy Scouts would meet upstairs and we have a ton of that memorabilia.”
Walker pointed out one of the rarest of items is the original WWII Honor Roll Monument. It was stored in the old town hall, but once was on display at the town square where the Gazebo is now.
In the downstairs area there was another rare gem of a 1964 Town Election Results. It is still kept in perfect shape on a chalk board and now on display.
“We were founded in 1993 and it wasn’t until 2009 that we got the building. I remember we started out with nothing. A man had given the original members the carriage, but we didn’t have any room for it. We had kept it in storage all this time. All these years we had a goal to display it,” Walker said. “I love horses, so I have a saddle on display here too. I would like to have an entire section on horses here soon. We have come a long way. We just added another exhibit on Katherine Humphrey. It is about her time at Cornell Cooperative Extension in the Main Building.”
O’Neil said that they all put a lot of work into the Carriage House Exhibit. It was a labor of love for her since she has fond memories of the old town hall. O’Neil said her father used to play basketball there, and she recalls the dances and roller skating.
Haywood said she hopes that everyone will enjoy the old town hall memorabilia when they visit the museum.
“We want people to bring us photos of the time they spent at old town hall. We want them to come and share their stories with us. They had skating, plays, dances, basketball, and everything else there,” she said. “A whole generation of people in this area has memories of old town hall. We would love to have copies of their photos to share with others. We hope to generate a lot of interest in this exhibit.”
The old town hall was built in 1885 and called Concert Hall. Roller Skating was a huge form of recreation at the time, so that was the purpose of the building. It soon became used for various other sorts of entertainment. In 1911 it was purchased by the town of Springwater. It became known as the Springwater Town Hall. It was still used for many purposes to entertain the community as well as town meetings. A roof needed to be replaced following a fire that caused some damage in 1927. A new roof was put on completely in 1964. The following year a new heating system was put in the hall. In the 1980s the old town hall was left to its own memories of times long ago.
The Springwater-Webster Crossing Historical Society is located at 8130 Route 15 in Springwater. You can visit by appointment only. It can be reached at 585-737-7345.