HANNIBAL – It’s been almost 40 years since the Hannibal Community Center opened its doors to the public.
The building houses the Hannibal Free Library; The Senior Nutrition Site and Elderberries, Hannibal’s senior citizens group; and the Hannibal Historical Society.
Children and teens are welcomed at the library for storyhour and after-school activities.
The building, one of the most-used in the town, serves as a meeting place for individuals aged 3 to 103.
The Hannibal Historical Society will host a meeting on March 25 at 7 p.m. to make plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the building – a structure that was almost razed by the wrecking ball.
Originally, the Community Center was known as the Hannibal Baptist Church, built in 1827.
After the Baptist and Presbyterian churches federated in 1926 to form Community Church, the Community House (as it was known at the time) became the center of the social life of the church and, to a lesser extent, the community.
In 1968, an inspection of the building revealed that the north wall had dangerously deteriorated and the building was condemned.
At the time, the congregation of Community Church did not have the necessary funds to repair the building and many residents of the village felt that the historic structure should not be destroyed.
A committee, headed by Bank Manager, Paul Elkie, was formed in 1976 with the purpose of exploring ways to save the building.
This committee felt it financially impossible to raise the necessary funds for restoration, and the committee disbanded.
However, there were those in the community who felt so strongly that the building needed to be saved, that they pushed for further exploration.
Mayor Robert Simmons appointed a committee to continue working on saving the structure.
On May 11, 1978, the committee met, named itself the Landmark Committee and elected the following officers: president – Roz Hastings; vice president – Robert Hooper; secretary – Lois Chaffee; treasurer – Bea Scott.
This committee and other members of the community successfully navigated the process of obtaining funds, arranging for occupants, hiring a contractor and holding a dedication ceremony on November 16, 1979.
The Hannibal Historical Society invites anyone who was involved in revitalizing the building; who worked or works in the building; who took their children to storyhour or nursery school: or who attends the Senior Nutrition Site or Historical Society meetings to attend the upcoming planning meeting.
The actual celebration will take place in November.