IT’S a long time since the couples of Purnim turned out to strut the Pride of Erin at the local hall, but the building remains the key focus of community events.
“It gets a lot of use,” hall committee president David Macdonald said yesterday at the opening of new extensions.
“Parties, 21st birthdays, highland dancing — it’s a busy place. With a church next door we also get funeral wakes and it’s used as a polling centre for elections.
“It’s a big hall and it has a good kitchen so it can handle a good range of functions.”
Extensions to the front of the hall boast new toilets — including facilities for the disabled — a storage area, a porch entrance and an access ramp and rails for wheelchairs or those who can’t manage the steps.
The work was funded by $30,000 raised by the hall committee, $20,000 from Moyne Shire and $100,000 of state funding.
“It was vital work,” Mr Macdonald said.
“Without the disabled access it would have been closed — it’s now compulsory to have it.”
Local fund-raising included contributions from the Gwen and Edna Jones Foundation, the Ray and Joyce Uebergang Foundation, the Archie and Hilda Graham Foundation and the Ern Hartley Foundation.
Moyne Shire mayor James Purcell opened the new facilities.
The occasion was also used to launch a short history of the hall construction, officially known as the Purnim Mechanics Institute Hall.
To compile the book, Purnim resident Ron Best researched the minutes of the meetings that led to the construction of the first building on the site in 1901, which later burnt down.
The booklet includes early newspaper articles about the building and a list of donors and their contributions, mostly two shillings and sixpence and ranging up to one pound and ten shillings.