Memorial Hall upgrades confirm Kojonup’s passion to preserving its rich history
The contemporary significance of a historic town hall to a country community like Kojonup has been recognised by the local Shire, which has just completed four years of renovations on its memorial hall.
As many town halls across the Great Southern region stand in the shadow of what once was, the Shire of Kojonup has repainted, re-plastered and, in some areas, rebuilt the Kojonup Memorial Hall in a $300,000 refurbishment.
In a bid to improve its versatility and safety, the parapet with the original “1926” date on it had to be partially demolished and rebuilt, with constructor Paul Retallack telling the Herald the original concrete was rotating forward, causing cracks in bricks and damage to the stormwater drains.
Nearly one tonne of extra weight had to be removed from the top of the inter-war Georgian Revival-style hall to reduce the stress on the building while it was undergoing these renovations.
Many cracks on the building, thought to be caused by years of wear from road trains driving past on Albany Highway, were structurally compromising the hall, but have since been mended with stainless-steel tie rods.
Along with the structural reinforcements, the main upgrades were applied to the roof to improve the hall’s lifespan and energy efficiency.
New toilets have also been installed.
Shire chief executive Grant Thompson said it was important for the Shire to preserve historical buildings like the “iconic” Kojonup Memorial Hall.
“Coming into the town, the town hall is absolutely a fantastic heritage building that needs to be maintained,” he said.
The decision to built the near-century-old hall in the 1920s, decided upon by a local referendum, came from the community’s desire to have a place to pay tribute to those who served Australia at war.
That is why inside the foyer of the heritage-listed building is a memorial to remind the community of those who made sacrifices for their country, with the names of local Diggers who lost their lives in World War I listed on a marble scroll under the light of a stained-glass ceiling.
Further inside the facility is the main hall area, which still hosts taekwondo and Kojonup Theatrical Society events across the year, but was host to monthly dances and cabarets in the mid-20th century.
These dances were described by the members of the Kojonup Historical Group as the place to be on weekends, when suppers were regularly provided to a hundreds-strong crowd.
Kojonup Historical Group president Arthur Collins reminisced about local man Joe Rourke, who used to run cinema screenings in the hall, and the time when the clock atop the hall mysteriously disappeared.
The historic venue has also played host to sports events, community meetings and an untold number of celebrations.
The recent renovations have ensured the hall will continue to play a central role in the community for years to come.
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