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Renovated Willoughby community hall re-opens

The Willoughby Hall is shown in August, 2013, after it had been lifted off the original log foundations.  - Solon Bucholtz/Special to The Times
The Willoughby Hall is shown in August, 2013, after it had been lifted off the original log foundations.
— image credit: Solon Bucholtz/Special to The Times

It cost about $950,000 to move the Willoughby Hall about 10 metres to the left and one metre up, close to double the original estimated $500,000 cost of preserving and upgrading the heritage hall at 208 Street and 83 Avenue.

Now, it’s ready to re-open.

Speaking for the community group that operates the hall, former Langley Township mayor Kurt Alberts told the Monday, May 12 meeting of council the higher cost was due to unexpected expenses that arose during the move and rebuild.

It required six hydraulic jacks to raise the building and slide it north to its new location on heavy-duty metal rails.

Then a new concrete foundation had to be built underneath the building while it rested on temporary wooden supports.

Once the concrete dried, the hall was lowered onto a new full basement with a nine-foot ceiling, raising the hall about three feet.

It was a near-perfect fit, no more than a quarter-inch off, Alberts said.

Willoughby HallThe project got an emphatic thumbs-up from council, with Mayor Jack Froese calling it “amazing” and Councillor Charlie Fox saying “the outcome is certainly worth it.”

The top-to-bottom overhaul of the 1930s-era wood frame structure included all-new electrical wiring, plumbing, windows and doors.

The kitchen was an add-on to the original building. It had to be demolished and rebuilt.

The foundation turned out to be three cedar logs that were in remarkably good shape and have been preserved for some as-yet-determined purpose.

The cost of the move and some of the renovation work was paid for by the company building a nearby residential project, which needed to relocate the hall to make the best use of land in the area for the multi-family housing project.

Other funding was supplied by the Baker Memorial Fund in memory of Shirley and Roy Baker, and by the Township.

The hall, at 83 Avenue and 208 Street, will hold its official opening to the public on Saturday, May 24 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The hall is an official Langley Township heritage building and is one of a small number of buildings from that era in Willoughby to be preserved.

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