As workers put the finishing touches on the shiny new Woolwich Memorial Centre, the Lions Hall across the street is getting a facelift.
Workers this week installed insulation and new siding across the front of building on South Street.
The building was slated to be torn down five years ago, but the Lions Club stepped forward to save it. The organization teamed up with Woolwich Township, splitting in half the $350,000 needed to buy the building and two acres of adjacent land.
“That was not easy for us to do because it was a major financial commitment to pay for half of it,” said Lions Club member Art Woods.
There was little or no insulation on the building when the Lions took it over, and the heating costs were significant. When the Lions approached Woolwich council about refurbishing the hall, the township asked the club to wait until the new recreation complex was under construction so the buildings could match.
“In the eyes of the municipality, that is part of the complex overall, so we’re trying to tie it together,” Woods said. “We’re totally in agreement with their request and we’re trying to get it done.
The material of the Woolwich Memorial Centre proved very difficult to match, but the Lions are confident the two buildings will be cohesive.
An Old Order Mennonite farmer salvaged the old steel and the Lions are volunteering their time, with the rest of the work being done by a professional contractor.
Woods said he can’t believe how busy the hall has become. The Waterloo Region District School Board uses it three days a week for their offsite special programs, among a host of users, from wedding parties to the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival committee.
The building was never meant to be a community hall; it was originally built as a storage building by the Woolwich Agricultural Society during the days of the Elmira Raceway.
“Unfortunately it’s still going to look a bit like a driving shed; we can’t do anything with the roof,” Woods said. “We have to work with what we’ve got, but we want to make it look as good as possible.”
The south façade of the building will be completed this week, as the hall has been booked for a wedding reception Aug. 22. The north side is less pressing, but the work should wrap up by next week.
After the work on the building itself is complete, the driveway will be redone with a drop-off area and some plantings to coordinate with the rec. complex.