The newly restored first floor of the historic Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood in DeFuniak Springs, FL will now include a $7,000 catering kitchen for events thanks to members of the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood Foundation (CHOBF) and local donors. City officials plan to purchase and install the new equipment by the end of January 2021.
The Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood is the two-story grand entrance to what was a 4,000-seat auditorium opened in 1909 for the annual, multi-week Florida Chautauqua Assembly. Although a tornado during Hurricane Eloise destroyed the auditorium portion of the structure in 1975, the grand entrance resembling the U.S. Capitol continues to serve as a community center for various public functions and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Members of the CHOBF, a nonprofit organization, has been raising money for the restoration for several years and donating funds to the City for the city-owned structure’s restoration and installation of a new elevator. Most of the Foundation’s income has been through the annual Festival of Trees event which the organization hosts during the holiday season. This year’s Festival of Trees raised $1,725.50. The City raised an additional $400 from public contributions towards a new kitchen, and the Foundation members are contributing another $4,874.50 from past fundraising efforts to the City for the $7,000 purchase of new kitchen equipment for the first floor. Any additional donations the City receives this year will be applied to the second-floor kitchen being planned when the second story is fully restored. The first-floor restoration was completed at the end of November and the room designated for a first-floor catering kitchen is currently empty.
“We are grateful to the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood Foundation for their significant fundraising efforts throughout the years,” says City Manager Mell Smigielski. “State grant funding designated for restoration does not allow for the addition of new rooms with new kitchen equipment as we need on the first floor. The Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood Foundation plays a major role in filling these types of financial needs, and we appreciate all their efforts to make sure we have the necessary funds to accomplish all our goals with this historic building. Those who rent this wonderful facility after January will now have the benefit of a first-floor catering kitchen to enhance their event.”
Donations for a second-floor kitchen is still underway through December. For further information, donors can contact the City Manager at email@example.com or call the deputy city manager at (850) 892-8500, ext. 101.
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