Fairmount Hall built in 1922 as a meeting place
Fairmount Hall, that small building directly south of the Ale House on 12th Street, has been an important part of the Fairmount Community for 88 years.
The idea for a meeting place for Fairmount residents started in March 1916, according to a 1973 interview with Frank Jaros Sr.
Neighborhood families, including the Goffs, Bendas, Ziglers, Kisters, Brodaks, Sanfords, Forreys and Judge Straud Logan, would visit in their homes because there was no large place to meet. At the time, the Fairmount area largely comprised pear and apple orchards.
According to a Daily Sentinel interview, oyster suppers were held in members’ homes at a minimum charge to raise some of the money to help with the construction of the hall. The neighbors furnished everything to build the hall and did all the work.
After the hall was built in 1922, students attending nearby Fruitvale schools had a place to meet and soon began having regular Saturday night dances. It was used as a polling place on elections days. Dance lessons for children were offered for 35 cents.
The hall became the community center for the Fairmount area, roughly bounded by North Avenue, 15th Street, Horizon Drive and Seventh Street.
If you mention Fairmount Hall today to folks who have lived here for many years, they fondly recall the various events held there, noting it was a meeting place where a large number of people could and did meet. It was a place where the community had everything, from reunions, picnics, raffles, to all manner of celebrations. It was where people gathered as a community.
Potluck suppers were popular, and there were sometimes 80 or 90 people at such events. Temporary dining tables were made up of planks on sawhorses, and as soon as supper was over, the tables came down and the dancing started. Coats were piled in a corner and soon after supper and a little running around, children would snuggle in the pile of coats and soon be sleeping while their parents danced the night away. The heat source was a coal stove in a corner, which was enough to warm people up after everyone started dancing.
According to the Sentinel story, when the Fairmount Community Club owned the building, it was rented out for gatherings of all types. The rental money was returned to the community in the form of charitable donations to such organizations as Hilltop House, Grand Valley Boys Club, area public schools, Boy and Girl Scouts, the public library, March of Dimes, State Home and Training School, (now the Grand Junction Regional Center), area veterans’ groups, and Western Colorado Center for the Arts.
One winter the telephone company rented the hall five days a week and set up equipment to teach employees the new dialing system.
Square dance clubs such as Boots and Bustles, Pistols and Petticoats, Dip and Weave, Jeans and James, and the Old Timers club also rented the hall
The first Fairmount Community Club merged into the Men’s Welfare League, which then sold the land and building to the Fairmount Women’s Club, which had become part of the Colorado Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1922.
According to the Sentinel, when Minnie Cheney joined the club in 1946, there was $17 in the treasury, a leaky roof, twin outhouses and a floor that was about to collapse. Within a year under Cheney’s leadership, dinners were cooked and served to community groups, and all the square dance clubs began to use the hall regularly. An insulated ceiling was put in, a new roof was added, a new foundation was placed under a new oak floor, the wiring was redone, and indoor bathrooms were installed.
The rental income rose to $250 per month, and the ladies relaxed a little and stopped giving the backbreaking dinners.
In 1947, a year after Minnie had joined the Fairmount Women’s Club, she wore the traditional red coat and black hat when she went to the KREX television station to become national “Queen for a Day” for her efforts in restoring the club and contributing to the community.
When the 1973 story ran in The Daily Sentinel, only 20 members were left. Apparently that number continued to dwindle, and Fairmount Hall has had several other owners.
Today a real estate business is located there. But perhaps on a hot summer night when the windows are open, someone walking by might just hear a few bars of “Put Your Little Foot Down.” If so, stop and enjoy.
Kathy Jordan is retired from The Daily Sentinel. She is involved in many local preservation efforts and is on the board of directors for Colorado Preservation Inc.