The hall itself 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 next 60 years, it was used as a community center, performance space, movie theatre, shopping mall and even a laundromat. But for the past 30 years, the building has sat vacant, a cold reminder of what once was and of what could-have-been.
Now, as Pine Plains is beginning to percolate with activity — with the opening of small businesses in town, the revival of the Pine Plains Business Association and the rededication on the part of the town government to revitalization — Memorial Hall has found new life. Last year, three civic-minded Pine Plains residents purchased Memorial Hall with the intent of fulfilling its initial community service promise. Jack Banning, Christian Eisenbeiss and Ariel Schlein then turned from purchasers to organizers and formed the Pine Plains Memorial Hall, Inc. non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation, with the mission statement: “To foster community and economic development through the renovation and repurposing of the historic Pine Plains Memorial Hall, which will offer community, educational, and performance services and opportunities to the people of Northern Dutchess, Columbia and Ulster Counties.”
As the executive director of PPMH, I am getting a front row view of the spirit of Pine Plains and people with incredible talent donating their services and resources to make this dream a reality. From our architect, Doug Larson of Larson and Paul to volunteers like Billy Bartolomeo, a lifelong Pine Plains resident who has been integral to our initial demolition and construction phases, people of the region have stepped up to make the renovation of this community space a real community effort.
There are three floors in the building and each will fulfill a different service. The basement will serve as community center with a large community/meeting space, a full kitchen, bathrooms and dressing areas for the performing arts space. The ground floor will be the performing arts space, complete with the original tin ceiling. The second floor above the theatre will be divided into small studios and office space for artists and education opportunities.
But, in order for this endeavor to be successful, the people of the entire region will need to step up and support the effort. To learn more about the project, you can visit our website to sign up for news and updates, like us on Facebook, or, volunteer if you can.
Yes, good things are happening in Pine Plains and the entire Hudson Valley region, and it’s up all of us to keep it going. Future generations are counting on it.
Brian Keeler is a 28-year Dutchess County resident, former candidate for the New York State Senate, served as chief of staff for former state Sen. Terry Gipson and now is the executive director of Pine Plains Memorial Hall.