By Jon Wysochanski
Surrounded by flowing creeks, small waterfalls and open space, Avon Isle Park and Dance Hall has become a forgotten place from a lost time.
Older generations in Avon remember dances and parties at the park, but it is unlikely the younger generation is even aware of the park’s history. The city hopes the current restoration project will re-make the park into the sparkling gem that it was.
If work on the Avon Isle renovation project continues at its current pace, the first floor of the historic dance hall will be finished within the next couple months.
The city was awarded a grant from the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council for $170,610 in 2010, and received half the money to start work on the building and bridge. The city will receive the other half of the money this year with the possibility for another grant in March.
Avon Mayor Jim Smith said recently the total cost for the bridge work and restorations to the dance hall is about $400,000 and that about half of the money has been allocated from city funds.
The former bridge, which allowed vehicular access to the park, had been closed because it was structurally unsafe. The new bridge is finished and ready for traffic.
As for the hall, workers are making strides on the front porch, first floor and basement of the building.
Smith noted his amazement the building lasted as long as it did without proper renovations. Trusses were the only thing holding the roof up, the porch was not originally built on any type of footer and there was no structural support where the trusses meet the walls.
“There was nothing there,” Smith said pointing to where steel reinforcements had been added to where trusses and walls meet. “All they had holding (the trusses) to the walls was nails and that was it.”
Smith said all of the trusses have been reinforced with new lumber, and structural support has been added between them. ADA-accessible bathrooms have been added on the first floor in an area which used to be a dressing room.
Plans for the basement include refurbishing a small dance floor that used to exist in the original hall and renovating bathrooms located there.
“The downstairs is very unique,” Smith said. “The second or third owner tore the dance floor out. We’re trying to get pictures of how it looked. The people used to dance upstairs, and they’d come downstairs where there was a bar and tables with the small dance floor.”
The porch is being rebuilt on a solid footer and the original posts for the porch will be re-used. Smith said the previous three or four owners had attempted to “modernize” the building and that the goal now is to restore the building to its original state.
“We’re trying to keep it as close to the original as possible,” Smith explained. “Even right now we’ve taken out the suspended ceiling, which will not go back in. We’ve opened up the rafters, and this place will be more original when we’re done than when we started.”
Smith envisions park benches being added outdoors around the hall and he would eventually like to see a second bridge built for cars to exit the park via SR 611. The city actually owns sections of land near the Avon Dairy Treat.
A ford (bridge) used to be located in the back of the park, and Smith said this is how beer trucks would make deliveries to the hall. He said the city would like to secure additional grant money to construct a second bridge, and if all goes well, the park could be completely finished in two years.
“This is a nice place and it’s going to be great,” he said. “They’re doing solid work so your grandkids will be able to enjoy it.”
Contact Jon Wysochanski at email@example.com
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