Community Hall was constructed in 1929 and turns 90 on Labor Day. In 2010 the non-profit Unity Hall Inc. formed to restore the building to the community gathering place it once was. Joe Schulz Photo
by Joe Schulz
If you’ve been to the Princeton Flea Market, there’s a good chance you’ve wandered into a rummage sale in Princeton’s Community Hall.
Those rummage sales are part of a larger effort to transform the building back into the gathering place it was 90 years ago.
Unity’s ninth-annual Harvest Faire Sunday, Sept. 8 is another such effort. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 40 craft vendors will pile into Princeton City Park to sell their wares.
A vender sells his flowers at a prior Harvest Faire. Each year, about 40 vendors sell their wares at the event. submitted photo
Local musician Pat Kaping, the same man who played at Princeton’s Rubber Chicken Fling earlier this year, will provide live music for the event.
The festival also will feature a raffle with small prizes.
Co-event organizer Lee Williams noted the event is designed to bring people to Princeton and give them something to do after Labor Day.
“It’s a small craft fair, but it’s a really good craft fair,” Williams said. “The people who come each year have been great.”
The non-profit Unity Hall Inc. will sell food and beverages at the food booth, located in the center of City Park.
Folks inside the booth will serve brats, burgers and hot dogs. Williams noted if the weather is cool enough, they might even sell chili and loaded potato soup.
Proceeds from the food booth will go toward renovating Community Hall.
According to the Princeton Historical Society, construction of the building began in 1927 after Princeton School District Superintendent George Kelly came up with the idea for a community center.
After construction was complete, Community Hall was dedicated at Princeton’s Labor Day Celebration in 1929.
The hall served as a community gathering place for years, hosting dances, weddings, public roller skating and even basketball games.
Over the years, the building deteriorated and eventually was deemed unusable.
“The city at one time was either going to sell it or tear it down,” Williams said. “So, we got a group of people together, and made a nonprofit to restore this building.”
Unity Hall Inc. formed in 2010 with the goal of eventually seeing the structure used for events, ranging from weddings to youth recreation events.
Unity raises money through rummage sales, craft fairs in fall and spring and by selling wreaths and scented candles during the holidays.
The fall craft fair originally was run by the Princeton Lions’ Club, but Unity began running the event in 2010.
“[The building] was built on fund-raiser money and we’re trying to restore it using fund-raiser money,” Williams said of the rummage sales and craft fairs.
Williams noted the restoration doesn’t have a solid deadline, but progress already has been made.
The doors and windows have been replaced, and the electrical system upstairs has been modernized. The building also has been pressure washed, painted and seal coated.
The structure used to be heated by two hanging gas Modine heaters, which had to be replaced in order to get the building up to code.
“Now we have two furnaces in the basement,” Williams said.
Unity Faire co-event coordinator Cheryle Nickel noted security cameras have been installed outside the building in response to problems with vandalism.
Unity is hoping to renovate the basement next year, which includes remodeling bathrooms and making it wheelchair accessible.
The project has taken time, but Williams noted it’s slowly nearing completion.
“We were hoping it was going to go faster than it did,” Williams said. “We don’t go to people and ask for outright donations [and] that throws us way behind.”
Williams added September will be the last month Community Hall will be hosting rummage sales, because in October it will begin setting up for its holiday event, Festival of Trees, which fills the hall with Christmas trees each November.
For more information about the Unity Faire or how to help finish the Community Hall restoration project, call Williams at 920-295-6768 or Nickel at 920-295-6577.