During the summer months, a group of interested folks gave the Farmer’s Hall new windows, a paint job and a new outdoor toilet. The same group, with a few changes, had given the building a similar renewal about a decade ago. Most live in the Farmer area, others have contributed because they feel that such buildings should be preserved.
In an article in the April 16, 2003 issue of The Wenatchee World, Kimberly Gormley, also active in the 2013 effort, commented on the renewal effort. “Somebody has to do these things because we’re losing our heritage.”
Anyone interested in helping defray the expenses of the 2013 project is invited to contribute. Checks can be sent to: Farmer’s Hall, P.O. Box 457, Waterville, WA, 98858.
Originally called “Farmer’s Hall,” the first building on the site was erected in 1912. Locals paid $5 each for a share in the expenses. Two years later, the building burned to the ground. Only the cinders remained until 1917, when the current Farmer’s Hall was built. Insurance money was the financial resource for that one. For the past 96 years, the edifice has been used for community dances, grange meetings, weddings and a variety of gatherings.
The Willms brothers, who still sing in the community, sang at many dances there, since the family farm was located nearby. Two wedding receptions are planned at the hall this fall, the Waterville High School homecoming dance will be held there on Oct. 12 and a wedding is scheduled for December.
The current remodel included a paint job, for which Kenny Ward was hired. Steve and Terri Thomsen built a new vault toilet which can be pumped. It replaced the old two-holers which had been there since the early years. New windows were added. They can be opened and closed, have screens and there are no bullet holes to let in the winter cold. Gale Badten is working on the stairs and railing.
The hall was once part of the town of Farmer, which included a general store, post office, gas station and tavern. Two schools were located nearby. One was at Shiloh, two miles to the east. Happy Home School was one mile to the southeast. The hall has been a refuge for travelers stranded along Highway 2 during winter blizzards over the years. The General Store burned in the 1960s and the other buildings were taken down as well. In recent years, the hall and two grain silos have been the only structures at Farmer.
Although it began as Farmer’s Hall, for many years the place was called Farmer Hall after the town. Based upon her research, however, Gormley created a sign which used the original name. Additionally, the building had been stark white for many years prior to 2003 remodel. A local area vote resulted in the building being painted light brown, as it was originally, during the 2003 update.
Gormley, Badten, the Thomsens and others who have worked at and contributed to the restoration effort, should be commended. And, those who would like to contribute to the preservation of this fine old building are encouraged to do so.