Memories of roller skating at Eason Hall in 1956-58 come back each time I enter the handsome Greek-columned portico to pay a bill, attend a town or village meeting, dance at the Charity Ball, or search the Antique Show for some new-old treasure and read the latest notice regarding the next Friday night skating session.
Eason Hall was dedicated on Jan. 14, 1925. But there are a few folks now living who remember that the building was formerly Backman's skating auditorium. When Miss Clara Eason died in June 1919, she left the bulk of her estate to be used by executor, Frank W. Crandall, for the erection of a municipal building (exclusive of jail and fire purposes) as a memorial to her parents, David and Margaret (Woodside) Eason. David Eason was one of Westfield's earliest settlers, and his name is among those on the Settlers' Monument at the corner of North Gale and West Main Streets. Crandall, as executor, was to use the proceeds of the Eason estate to purchase a suitable site.
With the disastrous fire of 1923, which destroyed or severely damaged the first Grand Theatre, the post office, and the fireman's hall, there was an urgent need for new quarters, so the roomy and well-built building on Elm Street, known as Backman's Rink, was purchased and remodeled. Property immediately to the north was used to build a new fire hall and jail.
This photograph of Eason Hall was published in the Jan. 21, 1925 issue of The Westfield Republican, with the article headlining, “Eason Hall dedicated!”
An article in the July 9, 1924, Westfield Republican describes the plans for the new community hall including the entrance portico with four Greek columns, a large lobby, the village board and town board room to the left, and the village clerk's and tax collector's offices to the right with a concrete fireproof vault. Back of the lobby and the town and village offices would be a large auditorium with stage, suitable for all public meetings and dances, etc. Off the lobby to the left would be stairs to a second floor with three meeting rooms, a large recreation room and kitchenette, and a gallery and balcony overlooking the auditorium.
The dedication exercises of the Eason Hall on Jan. 14, 1925, "were opened by two selections by the high school band ..." F.W. Crandall "presented the building to the village, which was accepted by [village] President H. M. Hopson ... the dedicatory prayer was made by Rev. J. Godfrey Wilson, and the school band closed the exercises by playing 'America.'"
In the evening, a reception was held with music "furnished by Baideme's orchestra and the Legion band, and dancing was enjoyed by all who desired." The Westfield Republican article of Jan. 21, 1925, just quoted above, concludes, "Thanks to the generosity of Miss Eason, Westfield now has one of the finest community centers in the country."
The office of the Westfield Historian is located at 117 Union Street, in the small green building on the north side of driveway. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 to 11 a.m., or by appointment. The Westfield Historian phone number is 326-2457, and the email mail address is email@example.com.
Thank you to the many readers who provided information about Grace McDaniels Schlick who is living in nearby Erie, Pa., with her husband, John, and son, John.
Another Buzzings from BeeLines apology is in order regarding last week's attempt to make corrections of the Trump-Lincoln-Bedell story. In both the story and the caption to the photo, Peter Trump is mistakenly identified as Steve Trump.
Peter Trump is Fred Trump's son, and Christina Trump is Peter Trump's wife. I am very sorry for the name mix-up, and can only suspect that I was writing the story after a memorial for the late Steve Baran, and my fingers typed the name that was so prominent in my mind at the time. Thank you to readers who called this to my attention.