Denton Community 
Historical Society

March 2006 
Tales and Trails

A LITTLE BIT OF POWDER AND A LITTLE BIT OF PAINT
MAKES A GIRL LOOK WHAT SHE AIN'T

by Teresa Sullivan


It was a place I remember from my childhood in the 1930's.  My father loved to dance and one of my earliest memories is my dancing???? in the big hall situated on the west side of the street on the west edge of Denton.  There were benches on the long sides which were the north and south sides and after dancing, all the children and I went to sleep on the benches and were covered with coats and blankets until we were carried out to the cars at the end of the evening. My sister, Edna Borgman tells me that the little side room north of the stage was also sleeping quarters for small dancers that just couldn't stay awake for the last dance.

It was evidently in the early 1920's that the Denton community felt the need for a community Hall for church bazaars, dances and other functions.  There is a picture in our files of a group of men assembled to the north and west of the Methodist church. It is believed that this group of men were preparing to start digging the basement of the Community Hall, although this has not been documented..  What is known for sure is that the Denton Community Hall was incorporated on May 21, 1925.  The articles of incorporation state that the general nature of the business was to erect own, maintain and manage the building, buildings or other structures to be used for social, community and entertainment purposes, but not for profit or gain.  The amount of capital stock authorized was $5000 consisting of 5,000 shares of common stock of the par value of $1 per share and at least one-half of this amount had to be fully paid at the time of the commencement of business.  Commencement of business was scheduled for the first day of May, 1925.  The affairs of the corporation were to be managed by a board of directors consisting of seven people elected by the stockholders.  The seven original directors were Frank G. Hocking, J. W. Hothan, William Burgess, R. P. Cameron, J. M. Sullivan, J. L. Sullivan and H. M. Davis.

Several of the original stock certificates have been donated to DCHS. Stock #35 issued to Ralph Baughman for 25 shares.  A. Gansemer purchased certificate #120 for 5 shares and E. S. Sullivan obtained 10 shares on certificate #58.  It appears that H. W. Hothan was president. Frank Hocking was secretary  and J. L. Sullivan signed the certificates as  treasurer.  The certificates are dated Jan 1, 1925.

The hall was well used in the early years. Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Sullivan welcomed a daughter into their home on July 31, 1926.  They already had two older boys and so the arrival of a daughter meant a party at the Community Hall. That baby daughter is now Bernadine Sullivan Stransky, a DCHS member.

Herbert Culp tells of skating nights with a Mr. Brown bringing out clamp on skates from Lincoln.  The dances were quite popular of course. The hall was used by the Denton High School volleyball and basketball teams with the basketball sometimes going over the rafters to make the basket. The dressing rooms for the teams were in the basement and were, according to one former basketball player, really, really cold in the winter.  One DCHS member remembers the facility being used by traveling road shows. Later on the High School wood working shop was located in the basement. Of course, there was no indoor plumbing and so the little outhouse was in back and woe to the person that had to wait in line during the winter months.

Just when the hall was moved down to Lancaster Street (the main north/south street) is not known for sure. Various persons put the date in the early 1940's.  But Herbert Elrod says that he and Donald Baughman rode on the top as it made its way to the new location, moving the various utility lines as they went by. Herb says that the Cox Moving Company of College View did the moving.

In the new location, the same usage occurred. There were bazaars and also the south side of the building was used as a backdrop for the screen for "free show night".  These shows had been held on the east side of the High School previously. Everyone would bring a blanket and /or chairs and enjoy the free show, sponsored by the town businesses.

In 1959 the Denton American Legion post #355 was formed and occupied the old hall. The story of the creation of the post #355 is interesting.  One day John Boman was in Lincoln and thinking that a bit of food and drink was in order he stopped at the Lincoln American Legion Post # 3. He was refused entrance because he was considered not appropriately dressed since he was in overalls.  He declared that he would simply start his own post and he then proceeded to convince enough local veterans to join him. A deed at the Lancaster county Register of Deeds office shows that on August 14, 1975, the Village of Denton sold the facility on Lot #428 to American Legion Post #355 for $10,000.  A mortgage on file at the same office shows that they then secured a $5,000 loan from Martell State Bank.  On November 16, 1977 the Martell State Bank released the mortgage.

Through the years that old girl has been transformed by a bit of powder and a bit of paint and is now quite respectable with new siding and new flooring and even the little outhouse has gone the way of all good things with indoor restrooms.  The rafters have disappeared above an acoustic tile ceiling and the stage that seemed so large many years ago now seems so small with the big screen TV in its center. Several years ago, there was talk of razing the building and building a new Post home. But the girl with so much history has been preserved with a little bit of powder and a little bit of paint.


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Webmaster - Kathie Harrison
Denton Community Historical Society of Nebraska