We all have that one time or place that changed our lives for the better, and if the walls of the Myall Park Hall could talk, they would have much to say on romances, fun and maybe even a bit of mischief carried out underneath their supervision.
Myall Park Hall, now located at Griffith’s Pioneer Park, holds a special place in the memories of three MIA women in particular: Patricia Toscan, Jennifer O’Donnell-Priest and Beryl Marcus, who all share their memories and special connections to the building.
Watch them share their stories in the video below:
For Beryl Marcus, the Myall Park Hall set the precedent for her married life, after meeting her husband Dave Marcus at a dance in 1947.
“It was all very romantic,” Ms Marcus said.
“He was MCing and I thought he was a very important person in charge of everything. I thought he was a nice guy, so I set my cap at him I’m afraid, and I always say I wooed him, he didn’t woo me. He’d just laugh.”
Myall Park Hall seemed to be the place to go to meet you significant other, with Jennifer O’Donnell-Priest discovering an unexpected connection to the Hall when she went to get married at Pioneer Park, before her current employment there as Business and Administration Coordinator.
“When I got married, one of my aunties pointed out to me that it was in actual fact the same hall where my mother and father met at a social dance after the Second World War,” Mrs O’Donnell-Priest said.
“I had heard the stories from mum that she met dad at a dance, so it’s a beautiful connection. We picked it as a wedding venue because of the ambiance, and the rural rustic feel, and finding this out just tied it all in together.”
The community at Myall Park went to the hall for all kinds of special events, such as weddings, bucks parties, school concerts, card nights and many others, but for Mrs Marcus as well as Mrs Toscan, Christmas times were especially memorable.
“One of my favorite memories, we used to have our Christmas party at the end of the year, with a Christmas play and we would all have a part,” Mrs Toscan said.
“We would then have our Christmas tree, and out parents would bring food which we would all share at the end of the night. I could always remember there would be a humongous Christmas tree at the end of the hall which us kids would decorate it with decorations made in our class.
“We would all get so excited waiting for Santa Claus, as we were told Santa Claus would fly in, so we would all race outside looking to see if we could see him.”
Ms Marcus remembered one special Christmas time, where community spirit really shone.
“We had a Christmas tree one year, and I remember one particular family came, and they were very poor. The lady had three little boys and her husband. We asked her to come to the Christmas tree, but she didn’t know that she had to bring presents for her kids,” Ms Marcus said.
“There was a great scattering when everyone trying to find presents for these three little boys. I think Patricia’s mother had a spare present just in case, so we managed to get them all Christmas presents. It was lovely.”
Moves to make a meeting place for the Myall Park residents were first made in 1934, with a request from the Climatised Parents and Citizens Association for a recreation reserve of 10 acres. In 1936 a local builder built the hall using timber clad in ripple iron.
It was paid for with local fundraising efforts, an apparently a retrospective loan from the Rural Bank in 1939, and further years of fundraising to repay the loan, including monthly functions in the Hall, a gymkhana, card evenings and street stalls.
“I celebrated my ninetieth birthday at Myall Park Hall last November, and it was lovely to be able to say that my father started Pioneer Park in Griffith, and that I met my husband in this very hall in 1947.”Beryl Marcus.
Tennis courts were added later, and in the 1940’s a supper room was attached, made possible with further voluntary labour, donations and fundraising efforts.
By the 1970’s, however, time and vandalism were taking their toll on the Myall Park Hall.
Rather than see the hall decline, the Myall Park trustees decided to extend it’s life by donating it to Myall Park in 1976, as well as holding a reunion and hall re-opening ceremony.
Mrs Marcus’ father was the one who started Pioneer Park, and was the one who negotiated having the Hall moved to Pioneer Park in Griffith.
“I celebrated my ninetieth birthday at Myall Park Hall last November, and it was lovely to be able to say that my father started Pioneer Park in Griffith, and that I met my husband in this very hall in 1947,” Mrs Marcus said.
The appearance of the Hall was changed radically with the addition of new timber cladding and verandahs, but the citizens of Myall Park at the tie said they were happy that it’s spirit and name would live on in a new community function.
And live on it has, with the hall still taking bookings for functions and events at Pioneer Park.
“It’s hired out almost every second weekend, with weddings, 21st parties functions, engagements, and people take advantage of the atmosphere and history of the building,” Mrs O’Donnell-Priest said.
The hall now has full catering facilities with toilets nearby, and has heating and cooling, a modern kitchen as well as an outdoor barbecue facilities.
“Now we are all grandparents, and you remember your parents back then, and even going back to when my grandparents moved out to Myall Park, they had a close connection to the area too because they were all early pioneers,” Mrs Toscan said.
“Seeing it here in Pioneer Park brings back all of those memories, memories of when we grew up.”