Festival to raise funds for Memorial Hall

Published 10:31 pm Saturday, August 1, 2009

It is all a part of bringing one of the grande dames of downtown Ironton back to her former glory.

That’s the mission of the first fund-raiser set to help bring in money to go toward restoring Memorial Hall.

Next Saturday from noon until 9 p.m. will be the Memorial Hall Festival, organized by the hall’s trustees, Jim Volgares, Tom McClain and William Jordan.

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“We are doing this to raise funds to restore the Memorial Hall. I know people help us when we have roadblocks, but we are needing more help,” McClain said.

The hall was built in 1892 by the Union Civil War veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic as a meeting place for veterans. However, a century of use without necessary maintenance, plus a massive fire in 1905 that destroyed the original interior, turned the building into a structure worthy of the wrecking ball.

But a grassroots effort spearheaded by the American Legion Post 433 is working to raise enough money to restore the structure to its once pre-eminent place in Ironton’s architecture. Already post members have spent hours collecting money in bucket brigades at intersections around the area.

Possible restoration plans include installing a steel structure with concrete floors, then wood floors on top of that.

“What we think it would look like,” McClain said. “We can’t find any picture of the inside before the fire.”

Railroad Street between Fourth and Fifth streets will be shut down for the festival. There will be a Cornhole tournament with a cash prize of $100 for the winner. A 50-50 raffle with a cash prize and a second raffle for a Cornhole game board.

Music will begin at 2 p.m. and last through the day featuring fiddler Michael Wilcoxen, the country rock sound of the Sheldon Rowe Band and the eclectic rock of the Edge Band.

Memorial Hall T-shirts and commemorative DVDs and veterans’ artwork will be for sale. Local food vendors will sell hot dogs, bahama mamas, funnel cake, hamburgers and soft drinks.