A Well-Used Community Asset
(Note: the following history was compiled through a variety of resources, including a history written by Dave Wischemann in June, 2003. You can read that recounting by downloading the PDF file here.) Wischemann Hall was built in the late 1970’s through the dedication, ingenuity, and hard work of a group of local citizens. Members of the Saucy Squares square dance club became determined to have a consistent place to meet and dance after having events canceled with as little as a half-hour’s notice at temporary venues such as the Methodist Church reception hall and the Analy High School dining room. One of the members, Dave Wischemann, got the idea to contact the City regarding available city property where a dance hall could be built. Initially these efforts were unsuccessful, but the City did volunteer the use of a vacant Camp Fire Girls hut. The hut was perfect for square dancing, but residents in the area nixed the idea, so the Club decided to dismantle the building in the hopes the salvaged material could be used in the future when property did become available (photos included). Eventually, the city did offer the site of the old city garbage dump, which was approved for use by the City Engineer when the Club agreed to build the floor 76 feet above sea level to avoid flooding. That calculation has proved to be accurate, and the Hall has never flooded.
Building began in June of 1978 with all-volunteer labor and fundraising. All of the material from the Camp Fire Girls hut is in Wischemann Hall today, including the steel fireplace insert, used to fabricate the gusset plates supporting the rafters. Local businesses also donated materials, and the beautiful oak dance floor was funded by many rummage sales. It seemed that just when a particular building expertise was needed, a member of the Club would step up to provide it. The first square dance was held on a warm September evening under the stars, before the building was complete, with the trusses open to the sky (photos included). The building was later dedicated by the Mayor, and a grand opening was held in February, 1981 (photos included). The Hall today remains the home of the Sebastopol Saucy Squares, a California Public Benefit corporation, but the club’s philosophy has always been to open up the Hall to various other dance and music-affiliated groups serving both children and adults. Money from rents has made it possible to maintain the building and expand it over the years, adding a dining hall and kitchen. The Hall currently has annual rental contracts for every day of the week, many with tenants of long duration (a summary is provided separately). Wischemann Hall is also available for single-use events, providing a great setting for functions such as birthday, anniversary, and retirement parties; wedding receptions; poetry readings; summer yoga camps; and more. Most weekend evenings not already scheduled with regular tenants are booked many months in advance. Wischemann Hall continues to be well-used community asset, both by its appreciative tenants, and its faithful custodians, the Redwood Rainbows Square Dance Club, Inc.