Bandstands in Whitehall 1892

Bandstands have been in evidence in Whitehall for nearly 100 years. The first one was built in 1892 (history in a previous article) by public subscription. It stood on North Williams street south of the old footbridge abut opposite the present marine hardware shop of Walter Newell Jr. For the first few years weekly summer concerts held large Audiences standing on the canal bridges.

The bandstand was built especially to accommodate the newly formed (December 1891) ninth Separate Company Military Band which was the principal band in earlier years. It participated in social functions and parades in neighboring communities. Many people recall the first bandstand that disappeared when the canal was moved eastward into Wood creek. The second bandstand stood in Riverside Park, erected on scaffolding that rose from the canal grass land to the east wall of the old canal. The date could be the 20’s to the 50’s. Memories of it are vague. Many recall there was a bandstand with a roof there and that as children they played on it. Before its appearance on special occasions in the park bands played on the deck of a boat anchored south of the middle bridge.

Early pictures of Riverside Park after this construction in 1914 through the efforts of village officials and the Civic League do not show a bandstand. Any pictures that might be copied or further recollections of its existence would be appreciated. I’ve been told that this second bandstand was condemned in the 1950’s and the third stand, a simple square slab surrounded by white board fencing, was made. For many years the Granville band, sponsored by the chamber of commerce played, on it the Fourth of July. This stand is being replaced by a replica of the stand of 1892, pictures of which are on display in the post office foyer.

This stand in progress is part of the project proposed by the Historical Society of Whitehall in 1979. It is a part of the early action portion of Whitehall’s Urban Cultural Park proposal. Land and water conservation funds are available for park improvement only. Therefore Whitehall’s grant proposal included picnic facilities and park benches for Skenesborough Museum Park and more park benches for Riverside Park. The fact that the stand is to be a replica of an 1892 bandstand to be in keeping with the Victorian buildings of the Main Street Historic district made it most desirable and caused the awarding of the grant.

Because the bandstand is the most visible part of the park improvement, the building of it had to come first, according to New York State Park and Recreation. Any federal grant is never more than 50 per cent matching which means that any amount of money awarded must be matched locally by cash or volunteer services. Proof of these expenditures must be made to the government before any government money can be received. Previous conjectures in The Whitehall Times are that the bandstand might cost between $14,000 and $20,000. Planned expenditures will be much lower. The Whitehall Urban Cultural Park Advisory committee has until December, 1983, to complete use of the grant money.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – July 22, 1982

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