Volunteers work to revive Weare’s Osborne Memorial Hall
WEARE — Built in 1920, Osborne Memorial Hall once served as the social center for the village of South Weare, and a small group of volunteers has been working for the past decade to restore the old building to its former glory.
According to Rad Betts, president of the South Weare Improvement Society, on Saturday folks gathered at Osborne Memorial Hall to play bingo for the first time in years.
“It went very well,” said Betts. “We’re really pleased to see the building being used. It has taken a lot to get it to this stage.”
Weare is the second largest town in New Hampshire in terms of geography, covering 52 square miles, said Betts, and back before there was an automobile in almost every driveway, the small villages in town had to make their own gathering places. Osborne Memorial Hall, named in honor of a benefactor, Wellman Osborne, became a center of activity in South Weare, and folks held lawn parties, functions, and a lot of dances, said Betts. The hall also served as a headquarters for the Wyoming Grange No. 54.
“We’re trying to get it back to where it was during that era,” said Betts.
One of the first orders of business was clearing out the basement of the building that held the bathrooms and a kitchen, but also had a crumbling cement floor and other problems. The two bathrooms were moved upstairs, the kitchen and floor were torn out, and a new floor installed.There’s a handicapped-accessible ramp, new windows, siding, septic and electrical systems, and all manner of improvements made to the building. But it’s still only good for part of the year because the building lacks heating and insulation.“We’ve had the insulation donated to us,” said Betts, “but we’re trying to raise money for furnaces.”
Betts said it will cost in the range of $10,000 to purchase the two new furnaces the building needs in order to be open year-round, and that fundraising effort is underway.
One of the goals for the building is to be able to rent it out for weddings, parties and other private functions so that it’s used the way those earlier Weare residents who contributed to its construction intended.
But it’s also nice just to be able to have a game of bingo there, said Betts.
“We’re hoping to host games once a month, as long as it’s warm enough,” he said.For rental information and other details, Betts can be reached at 529-7282.