The community of Silverhill has a “sad cloud” hanging over it this morning.
The historic, 99-year-old Silverhill Hall was destroyed by fire late Thursday night.
Firefighters were called to the hall, located at 31016 Silverhill Ave. in Mission, just before midnight on Thursday (Oct. 11).
The structure was completely engulfed in flames and was destroyed.
This morning, firefighters were still on scene, going through the charred remains. No cause has yet been discovered.
Troy Anderson, publicist and a director of the Silverhill Hall Association, said the fire has been devastating for the community.
“Silverhill Hall was a big part of the communities. It’s where everybody gathered for 99 years in the building. It’s not just a loss for us, it’s a loss for all of Mission,” he said
According to Anderson, residents in the area found out about the fire at about 11:40 Thursday night after one of the neighbours across the street from the hall saw the flames, called the fire department and posted it on Facebook.
Anderson rushed to the scene to witness the end of an era.
The fire has destroyed almost everything but Anderson said the group is hoping they will be able to salvage, something, a small piece of history so they can rebuild the hall and still have a piece of the original hall as a tribute to the past.
Anderson and the rest of the board members had only recently came together and were working on bringing more awareness of the hall, in preparation for its 100th anniversary in 2019.
“So now it’s, we brought awareness to the hall and were bringing it back to life, and for something like this to happen is very tragic.”
Anderson said association president Amber Roy said it best last night.
“All we could do is sit back and watch 99 years of hard work, sweat and tears burn to the ground.”
According to the website historicplaces.ca, Silverhill Hall was constructed in 1919 on land donated by Siver Lowe, the hall was built by and for the Swedish immigrant community that had settled in the Mission area in the early 1900s. It is a physical representation of a tightly-knit community that valued their social interactions, and in particular the desire to continue their familiar traditions and ways of life.
The hall was built using a functional rectangular design with a peaked gable roof. The material consists of logs from nearby Ruskin Mill and from other local properties and was hand hewn using the skills and techniques the men learned in Sweden.
The building remained the same until the 1960s, when a kitchen was added. The addition follows the same design elements of the oldest portion of the building by using horizontal wood planks. It is clearly different from the original, respecting it without trying to imitate it. The wooden roof was replaced with metal in the summer of 2008.
The greatest heritage value of the hall lies in its cultural importance. It is a physical reminder of a group of immigrants who settled in the area nearly 100 years ago, who valued their traditions and embraced their new country and neighbours.
Further, it represents the spirit and determination of a group of people settling in an undeveloped land in order to make a better life for themselves and their children.
The hall was officially opened in 1919 on Midsummer’s Day, an important Swedish celebration. Since it opened, the hall has been a place for teas, dances, parties, meetings, rummage sales, sport team practices, 4H Club meetings and casual get-togethers.
The designation of the Hall as a municipal heritage site was due primarily to the efforts of resident Sonja Barker, who was the social convener of the hall and chair of the group’s heritage committee. Her actions show the continued value that the hall has for the people in the community.
Source: District of Mission Archives and Library