…The need for a public hall at Hazel Glen is much felt, and it is somewhat of a surprise to us that steps have not before this been taken to get one erected…
The Evelyn Observer of July 20, 1906, under the heading ‘Public Hall at Hickey’s Corner’, expressed the desire of the residents of Doreen for a public hall and recreation ground to be provided to serve the needs of the local rural community.
‘The need for a public hall at Hazel Glen is much felt, and it is somewhat of a surprise to us that steps have not before this been taken to get one erected. Hazel Glen itself is what may be termed a substantial district; many districts of less stability have public halls and recreation grounds. Hazel Glen possesses a cricket club and a football club; and also can claim to have residents of a liberal and public spirited disposition, who, our representative has been informed, would readily assist in the erection of a public hall at Hickey’s Corner, where a suitable site can be obtained. At the present time if a meeting is to be held it takes place in a private house, or a distance of several miles has to be traveled to either the Doreen Hall or South Yan Yean Hall, which beside the inconvenience, is a great drawback and disadvantage to a district. May we suggest to the young go-ahead people, and others interested at Hazel Glen, to at once make a movement to get a hall erected; if they enter heartily into the matter they will be surprised how easy it is to supply so necessary an institution to a thriving district.’
The suitable land referred to was five acres of land at the north western corner of the Doreen crossroads (Hickey’s Corner), once a part of Henry and John Cooke’s, Eggleston Estate. The nearest halls to Doreen before this time were the Mechanics Institute at the corner of Bridge Inn and Plenty Roads, South Yan Yean (Mernda), opened in December 1888 and the Hazelglen Hall (now demolished) at the corner of Bannon’s Lane North and Doctor’s Gully Road, opened in April 1896. The Hazel Glen post office was renamed Doreen in May 1895, to avoid confusion with the name of the Reid’s Hazel Glen property.
The following week, The Evelyn Observer reported that ‘A public meeting is to be held at Doreen on Friday evening next, 3rd August at 8 o’clock to consider the advisability of purchasing a block of land at Doreen for recreation purposes and a local hall. All interested are invited to attend.’
The meeting decided to purchase the available five acres of land. Trustees and a Committee were appointed and fund raising commenced. The trustees made arrangements for the purchase of the land for the benefit of the community. On 5 February 1908, the land was transferred to Leslie W. Clarke, William Christian and Raymond L. Reid, acting as trustees for the Doreen Recreation Reserve and Hall.
At the first annual meeting of the Doreen Recreation Reserve Committee held on 23 August 1907, the following office-bearers were appointed: Patron: Wm. Christian, President: Cr. L.W. Clarke. Vice-Presidents: Messrs. A.W. Barr and P.T. Carroll. Treasurer: A.W. Barr, Secretary: H.E. Williams. Committee: Messrs. R. Atkinson, L.C. Brock, A.W. Barr, P. Carroll, W. Christian, L.W. Clarke, Geo. Cornell, J.A. Dickinson, H. Graff, J. Harrison, J. Herbert, H.B. Murphy, A. Nelson, P. Nelson jr., R.L. Reid, D. Stewart, H.E. Williams.
A working bee was arranged for clearing of the ground and tenders called for fencing. Arrangements were made to celebrate the official opening of the Recreation Reserve on 19 December, 1907, ‘by a grand open air moonlight entertainment on the reserve’.
On 3 July, 1908, Arbor Day was celebrated by local residents planting ‘about 500 trees around the picturesque recreation ground which they have lately acquired’. Mr. Clarke advised ‘that the trustees intended to at once proceed with the erection of a handsome and commodious recreation hall and pavilion.’
The Hall was designed and built by A.W. Barr, builder and contractor of South Yan Yean (Mernda), at a cost of over 300 pounds. A grand concert and ball was held to celebrate the official opening of the Public Hall and Pavilion on Friday 4 December 1908. Mr. John Mason, President of the Whittlesea Shire, remarked that ‘It was only a short time since he was present at the opening of the recreation ground. Since then they had made immense strides and now possessed a hall and pavilion, tennis court, &c. No doubt it was in great measure due to the energy of their President (Mr. Clarke) who as a councillor had proved himself a man who had ability with progressive ideas, and he was fortunate in having a good committee to back him up.’ Ewen H. Cameron MLA declared the recreation hall and pavilion open. ‘He was pleased to note the rapid advancement the district was making, and complimented the people on their unity.’
Doreen Hall at the Crossroads – 2006
At the Doreen Hall Communication Session held on 28 June 2006, local residents dismissed the idea of placing a historical marker on the hall site and urged co-operation between the Whittlesea and Nillumbik Councils to erect a suitable replacement hall and pavilion on the Doreen Recreation Reserve. The existing hall has been condemned and is scheduled to be demolished for the proposed road widening of Yan Yean and Bridge Inn Roads.
Today the hall is at the crossroads of urban and rural interests. The Recreation Reserve was developed by the community for the local community and still has an important role to fulfil as a focal point for the wider Doreen community, both urban and rural. The reserve is a tribute to the spirit of earlier generations who set the land aside for the use of future generations.
For the past four years the hall, opened in December 1908, has been considered unsafe for use. The hall and grounds have been used by the local community for a wide range of social functions and by many community groups as a centre for their activities. The Hall and Pavilion need to be considered as an integral part of the overall Doreen Recreation Reserve.