It’s taken more than two years, a little over $9 million and a lot of work but by the end of August, the Veterans Memorial Hall in Eureka is scheduled to re-open. According to those involved, the renovations should open some eyes when all is completed.
The project to renovate and upgrade the building began in earnest in 2017, after the hall suffered serious damage in the 2010 earthquake. The hall, which was opened in the 1930s, has been rebuilt from the inside out and retrofitted to meet state seismic standards along with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
The state provided 75 percent of the $9 million renovation with Humboldt County providing the other 25 percent. An additional $100,000 for electrical work, a cost that was identified as the project progressed, was also paid for by the county.
“The county has a duty to provide a building for the veterans and the public,” said Humboldt County Public Works director Tom Mattson. “This is a very classic building and, fortunately, we were able to get reimbursement from the state. If the total cost had fallen to the county, I’m not sure what we could have done.”
The Eureka Veterans Memorial Hall will feature a new electrical system, new elevators, including one with access to the main stage, a new kitchen and bar as well as a new dining room. Once the project is complete, the hall will be available as a rental space for the public.
“From my standpoint, the biggest accomplishment is that people can come in and have pride in a building that was neglected for 50 years,” said Bill Long, the commander of American Legion Post 212 that manages the building. “They have spent a lot of money and a lot of time and (the county) asked us each step of the way what we needed and what we’d like to have. All the floors have been redone, no carpeting, we have brand new handicap bathrooms, a brand new bar downstairs and there are now four exits.”
Both Mattson and Long are looking forward to the grand opening of the renovated building. Long said he expects the building will be ready for a full opening by the end of summer. He added he is already taking reservations for wedding parties and other events.
“As of right now the timeline I’m working on, I’m thinking that by Aug. 30 we’ll be ready for a full re-open,” Long said. “It’s a veterans building so anybody who has an honorable discharge, well, they are a veteran and the building is for them regardless of where and how they served. We will distribute keys to other groups like the VFW, the Navy League and the Marine Corps League and if someone wants to rent the building, they can contact me at 707-499-6290.”
It’s taken nearly a decade to get the Eureka Veterans Memorial Hall up to code and renovated for public use and according to Mattson, that’s what happens when damage is caused by a natural disaster.
“We have more than 200 damage sites from 2017-19 alone,” Mattson said, referring to road and street damage from winter storms. “It takes a long time to recover from a disaster. It just doesn’t happen overnight. It will be a good building and we upgraded quite a bit. We can rent it out for meetings and we are very happy with the project and looking forward to the grand re-opening.”
Dan Squier can be reached at 707-441-0528.