Orono Town Hall & Gazebo History
A History of the Orono Town Hall
By: Sharon McCartney
Walking into the Orono Town Hall, one steps back in time to the beautiful Romanesque Revival style architecture of Toronto Architect George Miller. Built in the Fall of 1898, it was quite a feat. The original town hall burnt down in the spring of 1898, and it was decided a new hall would be built. The grand opening for the new hall was March 1, 1899 at the cost of $5000.00
The Hall was originally the seat of the local Government for Clarke Township. The lower level door to the south east, opened to the Clerks Office. The office possesses a large walk in safe that held all the documents, and important papers of the Township. It remained locked until the early 1900’s when it was opened and the contents moved to City Hall in Bowmanville. The last clerk, Ed Millson, held his position for 30 years. When Regional Government came to the province, the Town Hall lost its status as a government building.
There was also a detention cell in the lower level, only ever holding one prisoner; a Russian name Danzubach. The Cell did host many transients who needed a place to spend the night. It was removed from the hall in the early 1950’s.
In the year 1935 Mary Ann Harris bequeathed $1500.00 to the Hall, enabling the construction of what is now the clock and bell tower.
The Main level looks much the same as it did when it was built in 1898: The wooden ceilings, wainscotting and pine floor entrance; the balcony with its tiered seating, still with its collection of the original chairs; all overlooking the beautiful stage. Having excellent acoustics, the hall has hosted numerous Concerts, School Plays, Graduations, Band Festivities, Christmas Carol Sing Alongs, Clarington Concert Band, Guitar Showcases, Piano, & Violin Recitals, also Breakfast with Santa, Something Unique Craft & Artisan Show, Local Art Shows, Doors Open Clarington and Strawberry Socials.
The lower level has been used by the Gentleman’s Card Club, Auto Workers Credit Union, and The Orono Play Group.
Because the Hall retained its Victorian feel, it has been the site of a few Motion Pictures. The Dead Zone, First do no Harm, and Dracula 2000. Also, the television program Wind at my Back, filmed some of its episodes at this location. In this, the Hall has seen such stars as, Pauline Johnson, John Candy, Meryl Streep, Gerard Butler, Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen.
The Hall was mostly forgotten for quite a few years when a local citizen became a guiding force in the preservation of the hall. Ann Dreslinski was the Chair Person of the Hall Board for 20 years. Through her, money was raised such as the spaghetti dinner which has been an annual fundraiser since 2010.
The one hundred year anniversary event was planned in 1998, with the whole community taking part. A kitchen was added onto the hall in 2001, making the Hall perfect for wedding and community events.
The Orono Town Hall is considered the Heart of Orono and is such a beautiful addition to the quaint Village. For more information on Orono please visit the official Village of Orono Web site.
Historical dates and information were taken from :
Reflections of our Village
by Judy Climenhage
Pg 33 & 34
Out of the Mist A History of Clarke Township
by Helen Schmid & Sid Rutherford
Pages 267 thru 269
Orono Gazebo – Bandstand
By: Sharon McCartney
Orono has always been a Concert town.
The first concert band was established in the early 1800’s. Then in 1898 Orono Built it’s first Victorian Bandstand. It was used until 1970.
In 1998 an Orono resident, Dave Climenhage, decided to re-create the Victorian Bandstand. In 2000, the Orono DBIA offered $2500.00 from it’s Main Street Millennium Funding. Within a month over $10,000.00 had been donated, and a beautiful Victorian style Bandstand came into being.
What is unique to Orono’s Bandstand ? The Weathervane is a Trombone. It is a 1940’s Olds Super made and used for over 20 years by Dave Climenhage, then generously donated to the Bandstand.
Information taken from: Reflections of our Village
Victorian Bandstand by: J. Climenghage pg 80 -81.
Once the Bandstand was built it was at once used for “The Great Canadian Band Festival” & Canada Day Festivities. Unfortunately the Band festival is no longer take place. Many weddings have been hosted at the Orono Gazebo.
The lovely flagstone walkway was installed in 2012.
The Orono Town Hall is Perfect for
Community Club Meetings