By JIM LANGHAM
DHI Media Staff Writer
— Marilyn Ruhlen has spent nearly all of her life in Mendon. During
that time, the Mendon Town Hall has played a prominent part in her life,
especially in her younger years.
The hall, which was completed in
1904 for an estimated cost of $9,275, was a two-story building that
quickly became the center of the town activity. The upper floor served
as a theater, complete with a stage and balcony, where commencement
exercises, class plays, road shows and farmers’ institutes were held.
There was a jail on the lower floor on the west side and also other
rooms for administrative offices.
Ruhlen’s favorite memories are
those centered around the traveling medicine shows. Each summer, an
entire troop of performers who sold various types of medicine came to
town to perform and to sell.
“My dad was the postmaster,” said
Ruhlen. “They notified him each summer when they were coming and who was
coming. Then they would have their mail shipped to the local post
office while they were here.
“When they arrived they parked their
trailers and they would stay for a week or so,” continued Ruhlen. “They
would use that theater stage for their shows and other events during
that time. During the show, they would take a break and sell their
Each Halloween following the downtown parade,
the masqueraded participants marched on to the stage and were judged,
with winners receiving a shiny new silver dollar for best costume in
Another large room housed the old library before the new library was built.
of the most unique and historical values of the theater continues to be
the old backdrop curtain which still contains advertisements of
businesses from the late 1930s. Businesses still marked on the curtain
from bygone days include The Citizens Banking Company of Celina,
Crampton Canneries, M.G. Watts, wallpaper and medicine, R.L. Hickernell,
Auctioneer, Maurer’s Hardware Store, J.W. Detrick Insurance, Miller
Barbershop and Heffner Brothers Garage.
Also, on the curtain are
Dick and Fisher Funeral Service and Furniture, Mendon Service Company,
Brown’s Market, Jerry’s Service Station, Mendon Service Grain Company
and Drake’s Grocery Store.
Today, of those listed, only Maurer’s Hardware Store remains in Mendon.
recalls when the community sponsored movies in the theater on Wednesday
evenings, with ticket cost at a “whopping” 10 cents.
“Everyone brought their own snacks at the time,” said Ruhlen.
so proud of this building, so proud to have it,” commented resident
Barb Hamilton, who has served many years on the committee now hosting a
popular Christmas tree event in early December.
“Later, teachers hosted weekend movies here,” observed Ruhlen. “The theater
would be full every time there was entertainment here.”
City leaders would love to clean and restore the structure, but finances play a big part in making that project very slow.
the town council meets in the building, the town office is located in
the lower part of the building and the emergency squad has its offices
there, Hamilton said.