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Renovating Hawley's historic bandstand

Construction workers working in a bandstand.
Sarah Scinto
Work is underway at the bandstand at Bingham Park in Hawley.

Hawley Council President Michelle Rojas refers to the bandstand at the center of Bingham Park as a crown jewel - and that jewel has been in the midst of a long-awaited polishing.

“It’s a full renovation, everything except for the roof,” she said.

When the extensive renovations on Hawley’s bandstand are complete, it will boast new electrical systems, new flooring, and a new name honoring the Norwegian architect who designed it in 1932 for the town he and his family called home.

“It’s going to be the Christopher Ellingsen Bandstand, or just Ellingsen Bandstand,” she said.

Rojas, with the help of the Wayne County Historical Society, has researched Ellingsen and his work extensively during the renovations. He was already an accomplished architect and engineer when he moved to Hawley from New York City and built a family farm on Spruce Street, just up a hill from the site of the park he would design.

Rojas says the park and bandstand quickly became a place for the Hawley community to gather, especially during the Great Depression when it opened.

“There were articles about how music venues helped during the depression,” she said. “I found that very interesting because, obviously, we’re coming out of the pandemic and people are…getting back together and back to normal life for a while.”

The town will celebrate the bandstand on July 29 with an all-day event featuring music, games and tables highlighting local nonprofit organizations.

The live entertainment has ties to the bandstand’s history as well - The Ringgold Band, a 23 person concert band, is set to play after the ribbon cutting and naming ceremony. Rojas discovered they were the first band to play at the bandstand when it opened.

“They have roots back to 1875,” Rojas said. “It’s a community band that had some aspects related to the American Legion and military bands.”

Find more information on the event at ellingsenbandstand.org.

Sarah Scinto is the local host of All Things Considered on WVIA. She is a Connecticut native and graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and has previously covered Northeastern Pennsylvania for The Scranton Times-Tribune, The Citizens’ Voice and Greater Pittston Progress.