Aldergrove’s historic Coghlan Hall gets some TLC

Work is underway to upgrade the Coghlan Community Hall for community users groups

A community hall with deep roots and a long history in Aldergrove is getting a major facelift.

Coghlan Community Hall was built in 1920 and over the past 97 years has hosted every kind of event imaginable.

For more than 80 years the hall was the centre of social life for the area, under the auspices of the all-volunteer Coghlan Community Association. Like other community halls around Langley, the Coghlan Hall was the site for countless community celebrations such as Burns suppers, Christmas parties, Scouts and Guide meetings, Women’s Institute gatherings, community suppers, card parties, box socials and country fairs. It was often the site for polling stations, local government open houses and stewardship meetings. Individuals often rented the hall for weddings, funerals and anniversary parties as well as religious services. In the 1970s it featured concerts by Sweeney Todd co-founders Nick Gilder and Jim McCulloch as well as Young Canadians/Shmorgs founder Art Bergmann. It has been featured in movies such as Best In Show, among others.

Situated at 6795 – 256 Street, in the centre of an area known as Coghlan, it is just a few hundred feet to the east of the small Coghlan passenger station on an old inter-urban line, and directly across the railway tracks from an imposing 1910 art deco power station that serviced the line and also provided power to Fort Langley, Milner and Langley. It is a simple, rectangular shaped and basic wood frame building with a solid wood floor that sits on a concrete basement which appears to have been added later in its life.

The name Coghlan originated with two bothers, Nathaniel and Henry, who settled in Langley in 1884 and took up quarter section homesteads south of the Telegraph Trail on what is now 256th Avenue. They ran a small but busy sawmill operation, cutting dimension lumber as well as ties for the interurban line during its construction period. Two Coghlan homes are included on the Township of Langley’s Heritage Listing as ‘Listed Buildings’. These include a simple circa 1900 sawn lumber cabin and a circa 1892 two storey Gothic cottage.

The circa 1920 Coghlan Hall is on the Township’s Listing of Heritage Resources as a ‘Heritage Character Site’. It is not a ‘Listed Buildings’ site because the original wood siding was overlaid with vinyl, and the original wood windows and doors were replaced with more contemporary aluminum and vinyl units. Much of this modernization occurred sometime in the mid to late 1970s or early 1980s and could, if and when it is appropriate, be relatively easily reversed as part of a restoration or adaptive use plan.

In recent years it was turned over to the Township of Langley after the Coghlan Community Association disbanded, and in turn the Township has handed over its operations to the non-profit Aldergrove Festival Days Society.

The society has been meeting at the hall every month, rents the hall out to various user groups and individuals for functions such as wedding parties and church or Girl Guide meetings. The society has also staged special events such as the recent Ceilidh and the Christmas concert featuring the Mike Sanyshyn Band, and the popularity of these events has encouraged the society to plan further special events and concerts in the coming months.

The society has also begun renovating the nearly century old hall and grounds. This past week truckloads of gravel was brought in to fill muddy potholes in the parking lot, as well as build berms at the eastern end of the lot where the ground slopes into the ditch alongside 256 Street.

“We have been getting a lot of rental calls and we’re putting those revenues back into improvements at the hall,” said Karen Long, a director of the Aldergrove Festival Days Society.

“The gravel leveled out the lot and also made the last step from the hall stairway not such a big leap.

“We also had the roof looked at; the metal is rusty but is still solid and has a few years left in it. And we had the electrical service inside updated to meet current standards and had a fire inspection.”

Other work will be contracted out as funds come in from rentals.

“We’ve had amazing responses from renters for weddings and birthday parties,” said Long.

“The Girl Guides had a sleep-over during the major power outage over the New Year’s weekend, and so we got the generator going for them and for the church that met here. We’re always ‘McGyver-ing’ to keep things running smoothly.”

The Festival Days Society is working on holding upcoming dances and house concerts and welcomes rental inquiries from the public.

The size of the floor in the main Hall is 29 feet by 43 feet and it holds about 70 people. A raised stage, with wings, provides the perfect setting for bands or other entertainment. A bar, fridge and sink area is located near the front entrance. Please note, however, that the hall has no kitchen facilities, however, outside catering services can be accommodated. Hall rental includes the use of 60 chairs and 10 tables.

A deposit of $100 is required to ensure the hall is clean and garbage removed.

To rent the hall for a community function, email rentcoghlan@aldergrovefair.ca or call Bob at 604-671-8948.

 

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