Marshall’s newly renovated Memorial City Hall will sing a new song this fall and Christmas season, when the more than 100-year-old building welcomes a Texas country music legend and an internationally known performing group to the stage.
The building at 110 E. Houston St. was built in 1907 as Marshall City Hall. It was renamed Memorial City Hall in 1927 to honor people who lost their lives in World War I. It was an integral part of the community before City Hall was relocated in 1994. Work to turn the facility into an event center with a 550-seat auditorium, meeting space and conference center began several years ago. The building also houses a military exhibit by the Harrison County Historical Museum.
“City leaders and members of the community decided they wanted a performing arts center and started renovating the building,” said Memorial City Hall Performance Center Director Glenn Barnhart .
Gary P. Nunn will be the second performer to take the Memorial City Hall Stage, at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9. Then, Celtic Angels Christmas, an Irish vocal quintet group will perform at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19.
“They are on a national tour and we are very lucky to have them stop through East Texas. They are going to sing favorite songs and then have Irish dancers to accompany them,” Barnhart said. “There will be a beautiful Irish spectacle on stage with beautiful harmonies and beautiful music. It will be like the Christmas trees lit on the square. It will be a lot of fun.”
The renovation revealed some surprises at the building.
“Since the building was close to 100 years old, there were a lot of things they were not aware of,” Barnhart said.
One of those things was a steel beam that supported the roof and was shimmed up with license plates. This kind of short-term fix had maybe worked for the building in the past, but much labor has gone into bringing the building up to modern codes, with air conditioning and wiring and major construction to turn the former city hall into a cornerstone of the community again.
The state-of-the-art, 550 seat performing arts center was designed in an art deco style of architecture. The building also houses the Harrison County Veterans Museum, with 2,900 square feet of military history exhibited at the center.
Barnhart said he knows the center is not as large as the Belcher Center in Longview, but he wants to bring that kind of variety of performing artists to Marshall.
“We want country and western, rock and roll, dramatic theatre, comedy, world music, international touring artists,” he said. “This will be our focus, something for everyone.”
Eventually, Barnhart would like to add children’s programming such as shows during the week for school children, a classic film series, and host community and civic events.
The building includes 1,400 square feet of meeting space and a conference room with kitchen access. Barnhart said the center is on the Marshall square facing the courthouse and overlooking the red brick streets, making it a great place to host meetings.
“This will be available for lunches, business meetings, corporate parties or Christmas parties for law firms, doctor’s offices or banks,” he said. “Anyone can use it to do a luncheon. We have a TV monitor in there and internet capabilities.”
For more information visit www.memorialcityhall.com or call 903-934-7992.