A project that was originally designed to put people back to work after the Great Depression is still serving Hannibal as its largest community center. Now that the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center reopened this week after a facelift, the old building is prepared to stand a few more decades.
Certainly a community center is not what the architects had in mind when they designed the Admiral Coontz Armory 74 years ago as a WPA project. It was meant to play a role in the protection of our country. The Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department took over the building decades ago and turned it into a community center.
The old building has weathered many floods and stood the test of time. However, some of the original wiring and lighting was still in place. Even a fortress like the old Armory needs a little TLC.
Parks and Rec closed the building in June to make the updates. It's not an exciting list of changes. We're talking sand-blasting, sealing, wiring, ventilation fans and the like. You won't walk in the door and think, â??Wow, it's like new!â??
What the $83,000 dollars in repairs and upkeep will do is prolong the life of this old structure that has hosted generations of fundraisers, parties, ball games and dances.
Mary Lynne Richards is an assistant supervisor for the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department. She had her wedding reception here 20 years ago.
â??This is a community center that everyone uses,â?? Richards said. â??It's a place we all have memories of and we can take pride in this building.â??