Fundraising drive aims to save Croatian Hall in Timmins
SUDBURY -- Only two ethnic halls remain in Timmins. One of them -- the Croatian Hall in Schumacher -- has not hosted an event since last Christmas because the building needs renovations.
But the Croatian Society of Schumacher is not ready to give up on the hall just yet. It recently launched a fundraising campaign to collect money for building repairs.
Dennis Sebalj, the hall's president, has had many fun times at the Croatian Hall.
"Our parents would bring us here on Sunday nights for a banquet or just a dinner," Sebalj said. "They'd be staying here all night and playing music and we'd fall asleep in the chairs, so it brings back a lot of memories and I believe we could still keep those memories going for the Timmins community."
A group of Croatian men founded the hall in 1932 and many of Sebalj's family members have been involved with it ever since.
It's the only hall in the city left with much of its original décor, with the floor, ceiling, stage and curtains still intact.
Prior to the Croatian Society buying the building, it was an early version of a movie theatre -- and the ticket window is also still there.
Roof, foundation issues
However, there are areas of the building that are not holding up so well.
"We have foundation issues, and we have some roofing issues, so we're looking to the people of Timmins to give us a hand in our fundraising campaign," said Sebalj.
The Croatian Society said the building has helped create fond memories for the community for the past 88 years and is asking for the public for support now through its 'Buy a Brick' campaign.
The curator of the Timmins Museum and National Exhibition Centre agrees preserving the hall's history is important.
"We travel all over the place to go see other people's fantastic buildings and so on and so forth, but we really have to take pride in what we do have here and learn that we have some worth here and let's be proud of it, let's support it and let's preserve it," said Karen Bachmann.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Croatian Society is hopeful about eventually seeing the building full of people celebrating again.