Unity Hall in the early 1900's
From its start, Unity Hall was built to be used as a performing arts venue, and a place for private and public meetings, parties, and other gatherings. It was built in 1896 by the nearby Unitarian Universalist Church, and soon became a cultural and community center
shared with other groups from Barneveld and its surrounding villages. It was well-used and much-loved until the mid-1950’s, when the public’s need for such facilities began to diminish. Some blamed it on the advent of television – technology changing peoples’
habits and pastimes, just as it and the internet do today. Without the revenue generated by some of the activities, the Hall began to be a financial burden to the Church, and by the early 1990’s the outlook for keeping Unity Hall open looked bleak. The Hall was becoming a liability.
In 1993, just about the time when the Hall’s future was becoming seriously in question, a local by the name of George Landecker decided that this precious historical structure was too important to just let languish and die. After approaching several potentially invested groups and finding no one willing to take on the challenge, he took the matter into his own hands. He summoned the support of close friends and just prior to the Hall’s 100th anniversary, the Unity Hall Foundation, a non-profit organization independent of the Church, was formed. Its mission was straightforward -- to save and restore its historical dignity and appearance, and to press on with its intended work.
Thanks to their successful efforts, the Hall has recovered its magnificent appearance, stabilized, and regained the respect of its Central New York neighbors. The walls of the auditorium are once again alive with powerful music, the spoken word, and a strong sense of community.
There have been several upgrades along the way, including the installation of heating and air conditioning systems, a kitchen with commercial grade appliances, and technical sound and lighting equipment suitable for most performances. But to fully appreciate it, from its two charming old-world first floor parlors to the all-mahogany 150 seat Landecker Theater with its tall bowed ceiling, you just have to see it for yourself. Musicians that play the Hall consider it a truly special place to perform. Audience members treasure it too, a fact reflected in the Hall's perennial strong showing in the SAMMY's (Syracuse Area Music Awards) People's Choice Best Venue voting.