By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
What was old is new again as the Enid Convention Hall public open house and veterans recognition ceremony were held Sunday afternoon.
Mayor Bill Shewey welcomed Enid residents to Convention Hall.
“As you can see, the building is still a work in progress, but it will be finished,” Shewey said. “We will be proud of it today, proud of it tomorrow and proud of it for the next 90 years.”
Former Enid mayor Doug Frantz read from a speech given by his great-uncle Edmund Frantz at the dedication of the original Convention Hall in 1921. The building was constructed that year at a cost of nearly $500,000. It was the center of Enid’s entertainment and sporting life for many years, until it was closed in 2009 due to concerns related to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Members of the public who attended Sunday’s events were complimentary about the building.
Enid resident Ben Ezzell said he likes the building, but wishes the floors had more wood.
“I wish they’d used more wood and less carpet, but aside from that, I think it’s great,” Ezzell said. “The upstairs ballroom especially could have benefited from a wood floor.”
His father, David Ezzell, also was pleased with what has been done, and is looking forward to the project’s completion.
“I was impressed with the building, and very pleased that a way was found to use it rather than demolish it,” David Ezzell said. “I am anxious to see the new and old tied together.”
One visitor, who did not give his name, said he is looking forward to the events that are promised to be held there.
“... liked what we saw,” he said. “I think they have turned it into something that, combined with the new (Enid) Event Center, is going to be a real asset to Enid.
“(I’m) looking forward to the new hoops arena that will seat 3,400 and the concert setup of 3,800, (which) will allow Enid to bid on some nice events and maybe make Enid a real player.”
Renovation of Convention Hall for use by Enid Public Schools was part of the Gateway Enid proposal in 2010, but was defeated by the voters. The building was scheduled for demolition until a group of residents formed Friends of Convention Hall and began working with the city to keep it open. Convention Hall was made part of Enid Renaissance Project and opened this week with special activities, culminating with the public tours and the veterans Legacy awards Sunday.
The contract for renovation of the building totaled more than $7 million. Work is being done by W. L. McNabb Construction Co. The building is managed by Global Spectrum.
The building will reopen as Enid’s newest conference center and will feature a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, a 3,000-square-foot ballroom and flexible space for either trade shows or stage presentations.
Among those who performed in Convention Hall were Anna Pavlova and her Ballet Russe, John Phillip Sousa, politicians both Democrat and Republican, and Spike Jones and his orchestra.
About 300 people attended the opening Sunday, many of them following the Veterans Day parade, which ended at Convention Hall. The first greetings were held outside on the front steps, and the gathering moved inside, where groups toured the facility and had their option of hamburgers or hot dogs, with a variety of water and soft drinks available.