Hance Pavilion turns 100, remains closed


PIQUA — Hance Pavilion celebrates its 100th birthday this month, but the venue remains closed to the public for the foreseeable future.

“Margaret Hance, Bob Hance’s wife, was my mother’s best friend. She died February of this year, and I am so glad she’s not here to know that the city, at this point, is not letting the civic band perform there this summer,” Piqua resident Margie Wallace said.

Hance Pavilion, located at Fountain Park in Piqua, was constructed in 1920 at an estimated cost of $14,800 — today, that totals out to $219,221.90. According to E.A. Todd at the time, the pavilion was a necessity to the community because there was a place for boys and girls in the city to get their entertainment, but no place for the adults of Piqua to get theirs.

“These gatherings of the few days during the summer months mean a lot to many people of this city. It is their vacation as many of them can not go out of the city. Therefore it is no more than right that we give them as beautiful a place as possible to spend these few precious days,” Todd said in an article published in the Piqua Daily Call on Oct. 22, 1920. The first performance at the finished pavilion was given in July 1921 by the Meteor band and drew in a large crowd of both Piquads and out-of-towners.

Not much has changed in the 100 years since Hance Pavilion — originally called The Chautauqua and renamed in 1977 after original Piqua Civic Band Director Bob Hance — opened to the people of Piqua. The pavilion has hosted musical acts and theatre groups over the years, as well as been a stopping point for 5k runners to refuel and relax. Most notably, the Piqua Civic Band has performed concerts at the pavilion every summer, with the exception of this year. While the Piqua Civic Band is currently performing their Thursday evening concerts at the Piqua High School Auditorium, the centennial concert slated for July 29 will be held at Fountain Park, outside the pavilion.

“The city, at this point, says that they’re just going to put a tent up. My concern about that is the acoustics, the fact that it’s not a raised stage to do a great big one hundredth anniversary centennial celebration when the band director can see the stage he wants to be on 100 yards away. I’m not happy about it,” Wallace said.

Wallace and Piqua Civic Band director Brett Poling said that the city of Piqua told them that the pavilion would not be available this summer due to safety concerns regarding structural damage. The Miami Valley Today reached out to city manager Paul Oberdorfer for comment and received none as of press time.

“We are very passionate about the building as it has been our home for many years and is named for our longtime director, Bob Hance. We had looked forward to performing a commemorative season in the Hance Pavilion, as it turns 100 years old this year. Instead, we will be performing our last concert of the season in Fountain Park, next to the building to celebrate its centenary,” Poling said.

Wallace is determined to get the band back on the stage at the pavilion for the centennial concert; currently, she’s trying to get in contact with the insurance company that covers the city and arrange an exception to use the stage at the pavilion for two and a half hours. She said that she has a list of 100 volunteers who are willing to clean the pavilion before the performance, and she wanted to propose band members signing waivers stating that the city would not be liable if anyone was hurt.

“I’m not giving up yet. I’m passionate about this, and I realize that there’s a lot of things I have no control over. If it comes down to the fact that they’re going to have to perform out of a tent in front of the pavilion, I have to accept that, because I know in my heart, I’ve done everything I can to try and make this happen,” Wallace said.

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