Old hall timbers are soaked with memories

A local hall or as it was labelled, the School of Arts, began popping up in many small townships to further the cultural and social life of the community.

Such a hall was to provide social amenities and meet the cultural needs of the community with a library and reading room. These were the first public libraries.

Queensland’s first School of Arts opened in Brisbane in 1849 and on the Sunshine Coast, Mapleton’s hall recently marked 100 years.

Other centenary celebrations will be at the Glasshouse Mountains hall on September 10, the Yandina School of Arts in October and Cooloolabin Hall in January 2017.

Many towns on the Sunshine Coast built a school of arts – Woombye, Nambour, Eumundi, Coolum, Maroochy River, North Arm and Cooloolabin.

Not all have survived and some have changed their names.

The halls were built with funds from the community.

In Yandina, a ladies committee set about the task, going door to door asking for donations.

It has been said that they walked from Cooloolabin to Coolum canvassing for assistance. A shopkeeper loaned them his boat to reach river residents.

To add to the coffers, the government gave an endowment on donations.

For more than 100 years, committees and volunteers have grappled with rates and insurance bills, painting, floor sanding, general maintenance, cleaning, grant applications and accounting.

Along with the high points there have been difficult times when the hat needed to be passed around members of the committee to make ends meet.

Halls have been, and will go on being, a focal point of the community. They form the fabric of the district’s cultural history.

Many have come and gone or moved on to their own premises. Groups included fruitgrowers and canegrowers, sporting and progress associations, patriotic rallies during wartime and the CWA.

Churches held their first gatherings of the flock there and there were protest meetings and elections.

These old wooden buildings have heritage value but the real value of heritage is in the memories of generations of residents.

Remember the school fancy dress balls, the flower shows, the dances, the debutante balls, the “wog” and “card” evenings, the wedding receptions, the Saturday night “talkies”?

We could go on remembering until the cows come home. Watch out for these centenary events. There will be a wealth of history on display. What are your precious memories?

And if the Queen decides to send out congratulatory messages we could reply to her that public halls have been loyal and have generally kept her photo on display since 1952 and that of her forebears before that!