LOUISVILLE — A piece of Louisville history will come back to life on Saturday.

Bill and Patti Shirley purchased the old Town Hall building at 8 Lincoln Drive in July, and they plan to light it up for the holidays for the first time in about 40 years at 7 p.m.

The building, which was owned by the town of Louisville, was constructed in 1900 and has not been used since the late 1970s.

“It’s been sitting there for 50 years,” Mrs. Shirley said. “They used it for a small time for a type of museum where they had some old stuff in here. If people wanted to come and look at it, they could call the person who was in charge of it and they let them in. In the mid- to late-70’s when the Louisville Arena opened up, they stopped using it. This was used for storage.”

Mrs. Shirley said she was at a Louisville Town Board meeting and learned that the structure could be destined for the scrap pile. That’s when she and her husband made an offer — the only offer — and now the building belongs to them.

“I just happened to be at a Town Board meeting and they said they’re putting it up again. I didn’t know, but they had been putting it up for bid occasionally every couple of years and there’s never interest in it,” she said. “We put a bid in and got it. We didn’t want it torn down.”

She said it took them two minutes to decide to make a bid for the building.

“We didn’t think about it for long,” Mrs. Shirley said. “This was just too nice a building to see it go down.”

“I like to preserve any history I can, especially local. We’re the type where we decide we want to do something, we do it,” Mr. Shirley said. “They tried to give it to the (St. Lawrence Power and Equipment) museum in Madrid. I think with everything that was on their plate at the time, it was just too big and too much for them to move.”

Recalling the building’s history, Mrs. Shirley said Dr. John O’Brien built the structure and later sold it to the town.

For its age, the building has held up remarkably well.

“It amazes me how they built a building like this back then when they didn’t have the technology we do nowadays,” Mr. Shirley said.

But, as with any aged building, there were some problems to fix, like a roof that needed to be replaced because it had started to rot over the years.

“The roof was bad and the water was just running right through it, and we wanted to preserve the building. That’s why we bought it,” Mr. Shirley said.

Mrs. Shirley said most of the work involved the roof.

“That was the biggest expense; we had the local Amish do that,” Mrs. Shirley said.

Mr. Shirley said one of their next projects is to install a heating and air conditioning system.

Electricity will be available for Saturday night’s lighting.

“We had the electrical inspected and put in,” Mrs. Shirley said.

But the use of power in the past was a question mark.

“There was power to it because there was a meter box. Massena Electric had no record of any lighting account here as far back as their records went,” she said.

Stepping inside, visitors will find a large open space.

“It’s an all-purpose room. Basically it’s for anything that anybody wants to use it for,” Mrs. Shirley said. “We’ve got big plans for it when we get done.”

A stage is situated at the far end and, just below the entrance, a basketball hoop hangs on the wall.

“They used to actually have plays, productions and such here,” she said.

An original canvas painted in 1912 and used for one of the productions is still on the stage.

“It’s an absolutely beautiful oil paint on linen,” Mrs. Shirley said. “It’s a picture of a ship, an old-fashioned Christopher Columbus type of ship. Milton is the name on the back of it, and he was a minister in the early 1900s.”

She said the floor is the original, and square tiles they found were manufactured in Syracuse from 1896 to 1912.

Some window frames that were rotted have been fixed.

“The Amish made it to the same shape. I’m going to have some more made through the winter,” Mr. Shirley said.

Mrs. Shirley said any money they spend will be spent locally.

“We’re not doing anything that’s not local,” she said.

As they checked out the building, they found items like a law book from 1867, tax rolls and a ledger with names of people who owned dogs in the community.

“They actually had a dog tax. It was filled with pages and you can still read the writing on it,” she said.

Everyone will have an opportunity to explore the building on Saturday when the lights are turned on at exactly 7 p.m. A gentleman is even driving from Utica for the lighting.

“We’re going to turn the Christmas lights on, and then we’re going to let people walk through,” Mrs. Shirley said. “We’ve had a lot of people contact us, especially through the Facebook page that we have. There’s a lot of interest in this building, a lot of people thanking us for restoring it. You know, it’s a landmark and we hate to see it be torn down. There’s no reason to tear it down.”

As the work schedule and finances allow, the Shirleys will continue making improvements to the building. She documents everything and posts it on the Historical Louisville Town Hall Facebook page.

As improvements are made, there will be opportunities for the community to use the space for events like wedding receptions.

“Everybody tells us when it’s done, there’s going to be a big demand to rent the hall for everything,” Mr. Shirley said.

And, when the holiday season arrives in 2022, there will be another ceremony at the building.

“We have bigger plans next year,” Mrs. Shirley said.

“Hopefully next year the heating will be in and I’m going to get a band to come in and make an afternoon out of that,” Mr. Shirley said.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.