Please see our video below from an interview with John Baker on the NTV Evening News.
Some 107 years ago, folks from all walks of life and denominations headed into the forest to Garnish Pond to cut the timber, which would later be milled into the lumber to build St. Gabriel's Hall. It was aptly named because the first event that occurred on the feast day of St. Gabriel.
Over the years, St. Gabriel's Hall became the event center for the Town of Marystown and the whole of the Burin Peninsula Region. It played a massive part in the lives of the people in town. Its uses were wide and varied: school, church, political rallies, fairs and exhibitions, festivals, weddings, youth gatherings, seniors gatherings and multicultural events. Local, national and international graced our stage. To name a few: Joseph R. Smallwood, Isla Grant, Johnny McEvoy, Jimmy Carton, David Francey, Masterless Men, Shannyganook, and so on.
The years took their toll on this beautiful building, and in the early 2000s, the owners of the building, RC Episcopal Corporation of St. John's, allowed the building to close and consequently turned off the heat. I might add that the rightful owners of this building are the people of the community. Several renovations had been made to the building, including removing the clock tower and replacing the original windows with vinyl ones. A dedicated group of volunteers negotiated a long-term lease agreement on the establishment in 2011 and set about to restore the hall to its original state. This restoration was completed over 10 years and reopened as a valued community center for the entire area. It now features a state of art elevator, theatre sound and lighting, theatre seating, a new stage, a cafe, a music school and our beloved Veterans Memorial Room. A community center for all.
Because of the turmoil in the catholic church, specifically, the RC Episcopal Corporation of St. John's, NL ( supposed owners ) of the building, the hall has now been named in the assets of the bankruptcy and is to be sold to satisfy the debts. This volunteer group, a valid corporation, has no legal right to the building anymore. We have spent much blood, sweat, tears, and money to restore this beautiful building and do not wish to see the only piece of history in the Town of Marystown disappear. Undoubtedly, thousands of expatriate Newfoundlanders and Labradorians would want to see our pieces of history remain. Throughout our restoration efforts, we have had the building declared a heritage building by Heritage Canada. We have also won the prestigious Manning Award for our restoration efforts.
Our only option to retain ownership is to repurchase the building from bankruptcy. As a true Newfoundlander, I call on all my fellow Newfoundlanders and those who love to visit with us to donate to our cause so that we have a place to meet, welcome, enjoy, entertain, and show you our little piece of Newfoundland history.
Proceeds from this fundraiser will be put toward purchasing the building plus legal costs.
No raffles, sweepstakes, giveaways, or returns on investment are offered in exchange for any donations made to this GoFundMe.