Stanton Hall closure displacing many hilltown groups

Montgomery Town Hall is seen here in a file image from the Westfield News. (Photo by Amy Porter/The Westfield News)

HUNTINGTON, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The Stanton Hall closure due to a fire on Christmas eve, is affecting many groups in town that use the hall for meetings, according to Huntington administrative assistant Helen Speckels.

“It is an inconvenience for people. There are a lot of groups that rely on that building,” Speckels said.

Starting yesterday, the Council on Aging cancelled its Tuesday 1 p.m. meeting as well as its senior lunches on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until the Hall reopens.

Bill McVeigh, dining center coordinator for Highland Valley Elder Services who sponsors the meals, said the meals are for people who are 60 and over and/or disabled, for a donation of $3. They are planning on starting the meals up again at the beginning of February.

On Tuesday, the Gateway Youth Athletic Association had to move its monthly meeting to the Gateway Regional Middle School cafeteria. The Little League also meets in Stanton Hall.

The American Red Cross, which was scheduled to hold a blood drive at Stanton Hall, has moved it to the Gateway Middle School gymnasium for this Friday, Jan. 6 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Hilltown Collaborative moved its 8:30 a.m. meeting on Friday from Stanton Hall to the Haley House in Chester. The Jacob’s Ladder Business Association (JLBA) moved its annual meeting and pot luck dinner to The Rapids Bar & Grill in Huntington next Tuesday, January 10 at 6 p.m.

“We are very fortunate to have such a beautiful building available as a community resource, and are quite thankful that the damage was limited. It’s great to see that the town of Huntington is dedicated to the continual upkeep of this historic landmark, and have made provisions dedicated for that purpose,” said Michele Kenney, president of the JLBA.

Speckels keeps the calendar for Stanton hall updated on the home page of the town website at www.huntingtonma.us, and has contacted all of the groups that had signed up for January. She said that the use of Stanton Hall is free of charge to town committees and organizations, but that private groups also rent the space. She said she also had to cancel a baby shower and a birthday party that were scheduled in January.

There are also fitness classes including Zumba, Chair Yoga, Tae Kwon Do and Fitness/Strength Training held Sundays through Fridays that are taught by private instructors. The classes, which are open to the community and charge anywhere from $5 to $10 per class, will be cancelled until Stanton Hall reopens sometime later this month.

Shawn Wasserman of the Huntington Tae Kwon Do Center, who rents space in Stanton Hall every Sunday for drop-in classes of all ages, said that Stanton Hall is a great place to hold classes.

“I love it. Teaching Tae Kwon Do is my passion, and I’m able to do it right next door to where I live,” Wasserman said. He appreciates the low fees that are charged, the convenience, and the nice wooden floor.

The floor is what caught on fire on Christmas eve, when a shop vac that had just been used next door at Town Hall after the floor was refinished there caught on fire and started smoldering. After the section of floor that burned was replaced, the smoke damage required extensive hand cleaning, replacement of ceiling tiles, and repainting of the interior.

Wasserman said that he was told Stanton Hall would probably reopen Jan. 21, but he said it wasn’t a definite date.