The 1863 Lake Map. Lot 3. Source: Note Centerline Road is marked "Proposed Road"

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Dance Halls in Alma

     My Dad, Wilbert Jeffery, has always told me about the dance halls on the Centerline Road - so the other day I sat down with him and quizzed him about what he remembered about them. There were two built around the same time in the late 1940's.
     The first dance hall that was the "New Look", owned and built by Hilary Kinch of Alma, brother of Edna (Kinch) Dunn.  He had a house, west of Archie/Bobby Barbour's home - there's an empty field there today.  Wilbert thought Hilary built the hall in 1947 or 1948.  The hall was a fairly simple building with a low pitched roof.
     I'm not aware of any photos of the Halls - so I sketched out something to give the impression of they might have been like.
     Hilary hired Russell Warren from St. Louis as his main fiddler - Russell won awards for his fine fiddling skills.  Russell was the son of blacksmith Harold Warren.
     Hillary operated the New Look for a year or two then sold the house and hall - Stanford MacNeill bought the house and used it as a granary and someone else bought the hall and moved it away.  Hillary went on to work with Roy Kennedy in his saw mill.  Hilary was in WWII - Wilbert recalls him telling stories about being in London.
     The second dance hall was built a year or so after Hilary's by his brother-in-law Wilfred Dunn.  Wilfred called his dance hall, "The Bright Spot".  It was built to the south of the driveway into Wilfred & Edna's homestead on Centerline Road.
     Wilbert thought the Bright Spot was a building similar to Hilary's, cedar shingled with a low roof.  Wilbert recalls being out to Rennie's Store at Alma Corner and a bunch of men around talking - Wilfred told them of his plans to build a dance hall too - Fred Rennie said, "if you build it I 'll be there the first night." And sure enough he was - Fred died not long after in 1949.  Wilbert thought Russell Warren played the fiddle at the Bright Spot too.
     After a couple of years Wilfred sold the hall to Frank Barbour (Adams lives there today on the Western Road) who moved it out to his place - the hall was cut it in two to move it.
     I asked Wilbert if he knew of any other dance halls in Alma or Lauretta - he said no.  Most events were held in the school and dance halls were something new after the War - there was also a hall further though on the Centerline Road in St. Lawrence.

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