Memorial Hall was constructed in 1915 and given to the Town of Pine Plains in memory of John McIntyre, his wife Elizabeth Hauver and their children, by their philanthropic granddaughter, Mary Ellen Lapham Saunders who grew up in Pine Plains with her grandparents. For the better part of the 20th century, Pine Plains was defined by the cultural events and happenings at Memorial Hall.
The majestic brick building on Church street stood tall and proud as a symbol of the town’s important place in the region. According to the original certificate of incorporation, Memorial Hall was, among its many uses…
“…to be used for the purpose of lodge meetings, lectures, concerts, banquets, fairs, celebrations, play, entertainments” and “public and private meetings of any kind permitted by law, and for public libraries, reading rooms, gymnasiums and for the filing and storing and keeping of the records and papers and property of the Town of Pine Plains…and for any purposed deemed beneficial for the public.”
It was well used for dances and clambakes, movies, concerts, minstrel shows, theatre, square dances, and even periodically to send soldiers off to war and to receive them home after their service. In 1935 it was remodeled and reopened as “The Pine Plains Theatre”, where it became a first-run movie house showing Hollywood films until the early 1960’’s. Vacant until it was sold in the 1970’s and subdivided for use by a coffee shop, hair salon, laundromat, and offices, the hall fell into disrepair in the 1990’s.
In 2014, to save the building from demolition, it was purchased at auction by a group of 3 local supporters to be restored and returned it to its original purpose, as the hub of the regional community and a beacon of cultural vibrance and civic pride. It was donated in 2015 to the recently established Pine Plains Memorial Hall, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Now in 2019, after four years of comprehensive feasibility studies, permitting, designing, cleaning, and renovations, Pine Plains Memorial Hall is nearing the completion of Phase One of its multi-phase construction plan. We could not have done this without the generosity of our donors, sponsors, and local supporters.
In May, 2019, Memorial Hall was renamed The Stissing Center. The newly-named organization celebrates the opening of its doors in late summer, 2019 as it defines its place as the center of artistic and cultural life in Pine Plains and Northern Dutchess County.
What’s next? An addition on the rear of the building to help with access, storage and HVAC, as well as a certified community kitchen in the basement for community use. Finally, we are adding a porch facing the Stissing House lawn complete the construction. Exciting times ahead.
With the support of the town government and local community, The Stissing Center is on track to achieve its goals of local economic revitalization and job creation while providing space for many of the uses outlined in the original 1915 certificate of incorporation; all in service of the people of Dutchess, Columbia, and Ulster counties and the entire Hudson Valley region.