After a number of frustrating delays the completely refurbished Waterdown Memorial Hall is ready for its debut. The official ribbon-cutting will take place Saturday September 16. The public has been invited to an open house that day from 1 to 3 pm where tours, music and light refreshments will be available.
The $1.7 Million project ended up more than 2 years behind schedule after encountering delays which included sanitary sewer issues and the need for increased parking. The original plan was for the work to be completed two summers ago.
The renovations include new windows and doors, an air conditioning system and the installation of an elevator, making the structure completely accessible. The Waterdown Village Theatre and the Lions Club make use of the facility.
The My Hamilton website provides a good history of the building, noting that “Waterdown Memorial Hall is one of less than a dozen community memorial halls erected in Canada after World War I, yet strangely Hamilton has three of them; there are also halls in Carlisle and Binbrook.”
The Waterdown Women’s Institute, The King’s Daughters and an amateur athletic group had been raising money to support the war effort and at War’s end used the money to purchase the land for a memorial hall. The site at 317 Dundas Street East was turned over to Waterdown Council in 1920. Unlike the current renovations the building was complete in about 6 months in 1922
At its January 1923 official opening, a commemorative tablet containing the names of all villagers who had enlisted in the war and the 19 who had died, was unveiled. In total, Waterdown sent 108 men and women overseas during the First World War.
Over the decades The Waterdown Memorial Hall was put to many uses. It served as home to the village council and Women’s Institute. But parts of the building have been used as a Divisional Court, barracks for wartime farm labour, a cinema—even a jail for a while. Between 1948 and 1956 the village library operated out of the main floor while the basement was used as a shooting gallery for the local gun club. During the 1950’s a nightclub used the main hall and bricked up the side windows. The clock tower on the original building, which housed the bell from the former Bell House, was deemed unstable after a severe winter, and was removed in 1949.