IRISHTOWN-SUMMERSIDE — When Lorraine Jenkins heard the Irishtown-Summerside town hall was on fire Thursday morning, she had to go see how bad it was.
The hall where she had her wedding reception was lost, competely engulfed by flames in an overnight fire reported shortly after 3 a.m.
Jenkins will still have the memories from her special day, but her more current concern were more for the playground in front of the hall. She operates a licensed day care in her home across the street and tries to bring the kids down to that playground twice a day Monday to Friday.
She also used to take children to the town hall for events, including visits by the public health nurse.
“It’s very sad to see the town hall gone, but I am so thankful my playground is safe and fine,” she said.
The playground was unscathed by the fire, but the town hall that stood for the last three decades or so was beyond saving.
Jonathon Blackwood also lives across the road from the hall. He was awakened at around 3:30 a.m. and could not believe what he saw happening at the building where he attended so many events through the years.
“I just saw everything all ablaze,” said Blackwood. “The roof was all on fire.
“It’s a big loss. I’m sure they’ll get a new hall back, but it’s going to take some time.”
Mayor Clarence Diamond said the loss to the community will be enormous indeed. In addition to housing the town office, the hall contained space for recreation committee meetings, gatherings for local seniors and was a popular venue for all sorts of bingo and card games, as well as birthday, wedding and anniversary celebrations.
It was also the focal point for the town’s annual Canada Day festivities.
“Everybody is going to be misplaced,” said Diamond. “Nobody got hurt and that was a great thing, but you also have the seniors who looked forward to going to these functions once a week or every two weeks. It’s going to hit them hard. It’s going to hit everybody hard.”
Dave Quigley lives in Summerside and was a member of that town’s council before it amalgamated with Irishtown. He also spent time volunteering with the fire department and many other community organizations.
The number of functions he attended at the burned down hall were too numerous to count.
“When I heard this on the news this morning, I had to come up and have a look,” said Quigley. “There are a lot of memories here. It was a great building and it’s going to be missed. I hope the thing will be restored and they get another building back.”