Category Archives: Community Center #2

Community Center #2

January 15, 2019

We hope you have a chance to tour the new Jacksonville Community Center—a lovely, multi-purpose facility. However, the remodeled and expanded Sampson/Miller building is not the town’s first gathering place. Local fraternal buildings and breweries served that function for years after the town’s founding. Then in 1947 when Camp White buildings were being sold after World War II, the City and/or the Lions Club purchased some of their “surplus” and constructed a community center at the corner of C and North 4th streets to serve as a meeting and social gathering spot for adults and kids alike. Longtime residents recall it being the site of after-school activities, teen dance classes, and community Christmas gatherings. The Presbyterian Women prepared monthly suppers for the Jacksonville Lion’s Men’s Club. A 1953 Mail Tribune mentions the Hall as the site of the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Department’s annual November ball. However, by the 1960s, the Community Center was becoming run down and the Saturday night dances had become rowdy. Mayor Jack Bates bought the community center and the adjacent P.J. Ryan building and began restoration work on the latter—part of Jacksonville’s revival after becoming the first West Coast district on the National Historic Landmark registry. By 1968, Bates tore the old community center down to serve as a parking lot for his new Jacksonville Inn. Jacksonville’s original community center was a “thing of the past” by the time Jerry Evans purchased the Jacksonville Inn that we know…..