A History of the Hammonds Plains Community Centre
Prepared by Hammonds Plains Historical Society. For more information on the history of Hammonds Plains, please click here.
Check out the Plains Chronicles’ Podcast From Hallways of Learning to Hallways of Lesiure: The Story of the Hammonds Plains Community Centre.
The history of the building that houses the Hammonds Plains Community Centre can be traced back to the 1930’s. The building was first built as a school, to replace the outdated Hammonds Plains School in Lower Hammonds Plains. During the 1930’s, despite the world-wide recession, discussion started in the community to replace the old school, which was located at the entrance of current day Glen Arbour. The residents of Hammonds Plains organized to raise funds during the late 1930’s and were able to raise the approximate $3,000 to build a new school. The land that was chosen for the school was donated to the community by Sid Eisenhauer.
At the time, the school was run by local trustees (Earl Haverstock, Clifford Haverstock, William Smith). The trustees hired a local contractor, George Zinck to build the school. The new school had no basement, only a low cement wall for a foundation.
The new school opened on October 10, 1939, with a registration of 51 students. There were two classrooms (P-5 and 6-9). In the beginning, the school did not have electricity. It was kept warm with a stove in each classroom. The school had two outhouses and a wood shed associated with it.
During the late 1940’s, some improvements were made to the building. The building was raised with a wall of concrete blocks placed beneath the building. To accommodate the new height of the building two new series of steps were put in leading to the front door. Also, indoor chemical toilets and a wood furnace were installed.
The community began to witness the beginning of substantial growth during the 1950’s, which put tremendous pressure on the school. By 1953, there 96 students attending the school and the Community Hall across the street had to be open to house an additional class. The community came together to raise funds for an addition to the school. The Labour Day Picnic, along with the efforts of the IODE Women’s Group in particular raised much of the $4,000 to make the addition possible. In 1955, the new addition was completed. It included two new classrooms (making a total of 4), four modern flush toilets, an oil furnace and sink.
In the early 1960’s, the Provincial Government began discussions to consolidate schools in the province and Hammonds Plains was chosen in 1963 as one of the communities to consolidate. Under the plan, the schools in Upper and Lower Hammonds Plains would consolidate into a new school, with the old schools closing out. Official consolidation started with the 1966-67 school year, although the new school wasn’t finished until 1968. The Lower Hammonds Plains School continued to hold classes until Christmas Break of 1967.
In early 1968, the old school was declared surplus by the School Board and the community made a move to purchase the building. The community wanted to use the building as a Community Hall to replace the old community hall, which was located across the street. The community was awarded the building with the condition that the outstanding mortgage on the building be paid off. It was decided that the building would best be served if it was aligned with the Fire Department (located across the highway). In 1969, the old school was conveyed to the Fire Commissioners, who planned to operate the old school as a community hall.
The old school was renovated to accommodate a community hall. Classrooms were removed to create an open area, a kitchen was installed within one of the former classroom, a stage was put in and bar service room was set up. A Women’s Auxiliary Group was set up to support the running of the community hall.
In 1996, upon the incorporation of the Halifax Regional Municipality all service commissions were dissolved and vested to the Municipality, and as such the Hammonds Plains Fire Commissionaires, being a service commission, was dissolved. HRM decided to transfer all previous assets of the former fire commission to a newly formed society so thus on February 29, 1996, the Hammonds Plains Fire Services Society was formed for the purpose of acquiring the assets of the Fire Commissionaires.
The Society voluntarily dissolved in 2002. In 2003, rural fire area rates were discontinued and the delivery of municipal fire services consolidated under HRM Fire & Emergency Services. Capital and operating budgets for fire stations and firefighting equipment were incorporated under the general tax rate. HRM operated the fire station but the hall continued to operate informally under the stewardship of local volunteers.
In 2009, the Hammonds Plains Fire Hall and Community Center Association incorporated as a non-profit society; this volunteer group has operated the premises sustained by bar proceeds, rentals, and fundraising. Throughout the past few years, discussions have been held with HRM on how to deal with capital investment to address safety concerns and operating inefficiencies. During this time the interior was given a refresh, including painting. Funding was secured for new steps leading to the front door, and an accessible ramp leading to the back door and new side steps, with this work completed in 2014.
In March 2014, the building was finally sold by HRM to the Association, representing the return of the building to community ownership.
In 2015, the association simplified its name to Hammonds Plains Community Centre, to emphasize the facility is available to the entire community. Kohoot Inc. assisted in the development of a new brand; the flower symbolizes nature, citizen dialog and our farming community. The association has worked with over a dozen local businesses, not-for-profit groups and public representatives on its Curb Appeal Project to improve the exterior look of the Community Centre; completed July 11, 2015.
In 2016, the out-dated original kitchen was renovated into a multi-purpose commercial kitchen and meeting room, and a new septic system installed.
On February 1, 2017, HPCC along with Estabrooks Community Hall and the Hubbards Barn, became a partner in the Bay Treasure Chest. This weekly community lottery has helped raise funds for upgrades such as new furniture, upgraded lighting, improved accessibility and new flooring.
In 2019, HPCC celebrated its 80th Anniversary since opening as a school and 50 years as a community hall.
For 2021 and 2022, a number of renovation projects are planned which will preserve and enhance the building for the next generation.