AN exciting new chapter in the life and times of Denman's Memorial Hall is underway with a concept plan currently on exhibition until Monday, December 18.
There are two stages proposed for the hall’s restoration.
The first is to paint the front part of the building before the town's major event, the Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair, while the second phase will be construction, which is hoped will begin in July.
Denman Memorial Hall was ruined by fire on December 28, 2015 – and has stood idle since.
The hall is a feature of the main street and its restoration will mean a great deal to locals.
Council’s manager for property and building services Matthew Lysaught said feedback on the design had been generally positive but issues had been raised regarding storage space and a suitable kitchen.
"Council encourages people to make submissions, this is the type of feedback we're after," he said.
The design also includes a galley kitchen and bar, as well as toilets at the front of the building which will be accessed by the public from the street.
Mr Lysaught said the concept design incorporates the old building at the front, which leads into a landscaped courtyard foyer that “connects the old and the new”.
“The new section is a contemporary multi-purpose space with retractable seating that can be used for many types of events, it’s a very versatile space,” he said.
Once the concept design factors like structure, toilets and parking are approved a more detailed design will be completed.
Mr Lysaught expects construction to be completed 12 to 18 months after the development approval and that council would also do its best to preserve heritage items from the current hall.
The hall holds a special pride of place for many locals with weddings, functions, meetings and balls there over the years, particularly so for Joy Heuston who grew up attending those events.
She was born in Denman Hospital in 1953 and her grandchildren are fifth generation “Denmanites” who still live in town.
Joy said the first hall was built in the very early 1900s by Mr Ab Day and was known as Days Hall.
"I believe Mr Day sold the hall to the returned soldiers from the First World War," Mrs Heuston said.
"This hall burnt down on November 8, 1928, and as my grandfather TJ Parker owned the newsagency next door, they lost all their possessions."
The current hall was built in 1929 and was renamed Denman Memorial Hall, in honour of unreturned WWI soldiers.
Mrs Heuston said one of the front rooms was called the soldiers room where the returned men met.
Those two front rooms were used for many purposes over the years from the library, to a hairdresser’s, a barber’s shop and a beauty salon.
"The main part of the hall has been used as a picture theatre and many social events such as balls, weddings, 21st and engagement parties, school concerts and presentations and even for basketball when it started in the 1960s,” she explained.
"I can remember going to country and western concerts there also, the one I remember the most was Slim Dusty when he used to go on his outback tours.”
The plans are on public exhibition until Monday, December 18.
All interested parties are invited to inspect the exhibited documents and make written submissions.
Address submissions to the General Manager, Muswellbrook Shire Council, PO Box 122, Muswellbrook NSW 2333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org