By Joel van der Veen
BLADWORTH — They’ve only just begun, but efforts to renovate the Bladworth Hall are already paying off — at least in terms of its aroma.
Volunteers gathered at the hall last weekend for an intensive work bee, with the goal of removing surface mould from both the basement and ceiling.
Lyle Kowalski, who serves on the hall committee, said the smell inside has improved noticeably as a result.
“It’s a much nicer, fresher smell,” said Kowalski. “We must be on the right track.”
The committee is planning several major upgrades for the hall, which has served as a meeting place for Bladworth and area residents for decades.
Their first goal is to install a suspended ceiling, in both the original hall and the seating area in the newer part. Acoustic tile will be used, in hopes of addressing the noise issues that have plagued the facility in the past.
Down the road, the hall committee plans to replace the furnace, siding, doors and windows.
An immediate need is to improve the ventilation in the attic, which is believed to be the culprit responsible for the mould.
“It wasn’t done properly in the first place,” explained Kowalski. “It wasn’t allowed to breathe.”
This will involve the addition of new vents, as well as replacing the soffit on the eaves.
Mould had appeared in the hall over the last couple of years.
Prior to beginning work, the hall committee spoke with health and building inspectors as well as mould removal experts.
Kowalski said they were concerned about the potential cost but have received more encouraging news since then.
The cost of replacing the ceiling is estimated at around $50,000. The committee is in the process of choosing materials, determining prices and tendering the work.
The Village of Bladworth owns and insures the hall, while the Elks look after most of the major needs — handling bookings, paying the bills and maintaining the building.
“We do consider it a community hall,” said Kowalski. “It was built with community funds and a community workforce.”
The original hall, which dates back as far as 1907, was renovated and expanded in the early 1980s.
First the hall was moved onto a new foundation in June 1983. The newer portion, which includes the hall extension, kitchen, washrooms and meeting rooms, was completed later that same year.
While the hall sees less frequent use than in years past, it remains a gathering place throughout the year.
The Elks host regular steak fry nights there, with proceeds going to maintain the hall.
The Arm River Wildlife Federation holds its annual awards banquet there, and the Davidson Kinsmen use it to host their goldfish races fundraiser.
The hall serves as a polling station in elections, and is also used for funerals and wedding receptions.
Kowalski said the hall has hosted many family reunions over the years, including one held in late December just before the renovation work began.
A team of 16 workers gathered on Saturday, Jan. 6 for a six-hour work bee to remove surface mould. Work continued last week.
Workers have also discovered another potential issue in the form of frost buildup in the attic, which could cause problems when it eventually thaws out.
Currently, the scaffolding remains in place and the tables and chairs are stacked off to one side.
The committee hopes to have the hall ready for use by April, when the Elks have scheduled their next steak fry.
Kowalski said the Elks are soliciting donations from individuals and businesses to fund the renovations.
Anyone wishing to contribute may contact him at 306-567-7605.