Our Past | 1982: Dance planned at Farmer Hall

Selected by Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

These excerpts come from an article published in the Aug. 26, 1982 edition of the Waterville Empire Press about an upcoming dance at Farmer Hall.

 

Dancin’ Again at Farmer Hall

By Kathi Rivers

About 65 years ago, the large white building just off Highway 2 was a popular gathering place for people of all ages in the area.

Christmas school programs, magic shows, box socials and dances were held in the hall over a period of more than 40 years.

In the last two decades, Farmer Hall — a landmark in Douglas County about 13 miles east of Waterville — has fallen into some decay, although it has been used occasionally.

This Saturday, music will again echo from the hall as the Farmer Community hosts a benefit dance to raise money for repairs and improvements to the building.

Music will be provided by Whiskey River, a band which includes Ken Willms of Waterville. The dance will run from 9 p.m. until 1:30 a.m.

The first Farmer Hall was built in 1912 and burned to the ground in 1914 or 1915, according to Jens Peterson of Waterville.

The hall was erected on land owned by the Peterson family, who once lived in the Farmer area.

Peterson said the first hall was built through donations and fundraising events, such as ice cream socials.

Peterson said his sister and her husband first noticed the fire at about 2 a.m. following a dance held during the winter.

“There was no fire protection at that time, so we just stood there and watched it burn,” he said. “The storekeeper to the south had quite a time with sparks landing on his building, but the snow saved it.”

Irene Ludeman of Waterville also remembers the building burning. “I was sick about it because I couldn’t go to the dance and I had a date,” she said.

Donations and benefits were again used with $1,000 collected from insurance to build a new hall in 1917.