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by Mark Cheffey
The centennial of the opening of the Fabius Community House in 1922 was marked on a sunny summer-like day Saturday.
But it was what has taken place in and outside the beloved building that was most celebrated by those gathered there.
“A lot of life happened in this place,” said Valerie Conley, a guest speaker, who grew up in the community, in recounting not only the history of the building’s construction, but also the subsequent history of how it has helped bind the surrounding community ever since.
“It’s just a building, but it’s also a symbol of so much,” Conley said, while telling the story using local records as well as newspaper accounts of the myriad of activities held there including dinner fund-raisers of all kinds to 4-H club meetings, drama productions and music performances, food canning and electrical use demonstrations, weddings, family reunions, and, oh, even square dances which were forbidden until the 1950s.
More than 75 people attended the celebration program in the building’s main hall, with visitors given their own opportunities to reminisce.
Ginny Kuntemeyer told of many activities she attended there growing up, and that she ended up meeting her future husband, Rodney there and have continued to be part of the community since then.
Susan Schwanke, noted the many family names associated with the community center including her own, Hoehne, as well as Robbins, Drebes and Keller.
“The great thing about those names is they are all still here,” Schwanke said.
Also noted by those speaking was pride over the building’s construction using donations of labor and money from the local community.
In fact, it is believed it was the first community center built in that way in the entire state of Missouri, and thus remains the oldest active one as well.
That distinction was one of many noted in a Missouri House resolution personally presented by Rep. Louis Riggs, of Hannibal, during the celebration.
“If you want to know what makes America great, it’s places like this and communities like yours,” Riggs said to those gathered.
In addition, the celebration included an auction and the continuation of local tradition with a homemade ice cream social.