Updated 03/24/2010 08:19 PM
Elmira community remembers Grove Park pavilion
There's a feeling of shock among the Elmira community, in the aftermath of the fire that destroyed the historic pavilion in Grove Park Tuesday night. Our Kaitlyn Lionti visited the park and tells us why the pavilion is such a valued part of the community.
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ELMIRA, N.Y. -- Tuesday night, tragedy struck Elmira's Grove Park in the form of a devastating fire that destroyed the Hal F. Roach pavilion.
Wednesday, the scene was similar to that of a funeral, as people came to see the remains of a cherished community landmark.
"It was very sad. I grew up on Fourth Street as a child, I remember coming here all the time," said Tammy Tullos, an Elmira resident.
"I have a lot of childhood memories here. I used to come to this park and play. Used to play on the pavilion, do a lot of different things," said Edward Holton, another Elmira resident.
The pavilion has been part of many lives through the years. The Chemung County Historical Society says it's been part of the park since at least the early 1900s.
"People used it as a picnic space, as a gathering space but also, during the 1920s, 30s and 40s, it was a popular place for public plays, plays in the park and there were also dances that happened there on a fairly regular basis," said Rachel Dworkin, Archivist for the Chemung County Historical Society.
In 1986 the pavilion was dedicated to Hal F. Roach.
"He was the producer of the Little Rascals and also a number of other films and he was from here," said Dworkin.
More recently, the pavilion has been used for community youth programs, as well as family events.
"We've come here for family picnics, we did baby showers here, church gatherings, it was just a big part of the community," said Tullos.
People we spoke with say the pavilion is such a significant part of their past, they hope to make more memories here in the future.
"I honestly hope they rebuild it, because there's a lot of childhood memories here. I just can't get over it," said Holton.
Elmira Mayor John Tonello says currently the city is waiting to see what happens with the insurance on the pavilion and has started putting together a response team to find the best way to move forward.
He says this could be an opportunity to not only rebuild the pavilion, but find ways to improve Grove Park as a whole.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.