News

‘Many treasured memories' created at church hall

By Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review

A fire in December, 2016 badly damaged the Saint George and Saint Archangel Michael Hall on Montrose Road in Niagara Falls, leading to its demolition on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. Members of the church have started a fundraising campaign to raise enough money to build a new hall on the site, expected to start in April, 2018 and be completed by November, 2018.
(Photo submitted by Denise Mateyk/Special to Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia News)

A fire in December, 2016 badly damaged the Saint George and Saint Archangel Michael Hall on Montrose Road in Niagara Falls, leading to its demolition on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. Members of the church have started a fundraising campaign to raise enough money to build a new hall on the site, expected to start in April, 2018 and be completed by November, 2018. (Photo submitted by Denise Mateyk/Special to Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia News)

The church hall has been demolished, but the countless memories and friendships made will carry over to the new building to be constructed next year.

Many members of Saint George and Saint Archangel Michael Serbian Orthodox Church gathered in front of their decades-old Montrose Road hall on Wednesday morning as it was demolished to make way for a larger facility.

The old hall, which congregation president Denise Mateyk said members built in 1960, was badly damaged by a Dec. 17 fire.

She said the fire started from an outlet in the kitchen, but was not related to the stoves or cooking area.

The fire “totally destroyed” the interior of the hall and roof, leaving only the cinder block shell.

“It was related to an outlet that malfunctioned in the kitchen area. News of the fire was devastating for all our members and parishioners, especially our volunteers who have been so dedicated to raising funds for our church,” said Mateyk.

She said the whole community used the hall.

“Our church grounds and hall are not only a meeting place for the Serbian community, it is utilized by all members of our Niagara community. We have a beautiful, park-like setting and excellent soccer fields.”

Mateyk said the church’s parishioners, members of its ladies and folklore group, choir, and soccer club have “many treasured memories at our hall.”

“Many great family friendships have formed over the years that have lasted generations. The hall was a gathering place for all the immigrant families and we built many dear friendships through our gatherings on the property.”

She said the Circle of Serbian Sisters ladies group always worked “diligently” at the hall catering various dinners, showers, weddings, and parties.

“All proceeds were directed to our church, hall and maintenance of the property and manse.”

Mateyk said church services were held inside the hall until 1971 when the church was built.

“For several years we held our church services in the hall using a portable altar that was built by one of our founding members.”

Mateyk said the church congregation was formed in 1953, and the property was purchased in 1957.

She said building a new hall will cost $2.3 million.

Construction is scheduled to start in April, with completion expected in November.

“Over the years the Serbian community has grown substantially, especially after the civil war in the 1990s. We are building the new hall for our youth and to perpetuate our Serbian heritage and culture.”

Mateyk said the church has about 2,000 parishioners.

She said a capital campaign has been launched to raise funds for the new hall.

The church has already received some donations.

The largest has come from Milomir Glavcic, who has pledged $500,000 to the project.

Mateyk said Glavcic was one of the founding members of the church, and led the construction of the church 46 years ago.

“We will be having a few major fundraisers to complete our campaign,” she said.

“In recent years, we have held a Friday fish fry, with all proceeds saved to be used to build a new hall or kitchen.”

Mateyk said the hall was about 4,000-square-feet, and the new one will be about 9,300-square-feet.

The new hall will likely “come out a little bit further” than the demolished one, and will have some similarities to the Optimist Hall, including the exterior, she said.

“The new hall will have a meeting room, a banquet hall that will seat 304 people, a large kitchen. We’ll have a patio that seats about 100 people. I think it’s something that’s going to serve our community for generations to come.”

rspiteri@postmedia.com



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