The old VFW hall in Echo is back in community use.

The hall was closed during much of the spring for extensive renovations, but was used for a city council meeting Thursday.

“It’s pretty well done except for a couple of minor things,” city administrator Diane Berry said.

The renovation has included laminate flooring to replace the worn-out carpet, an awning to keep rainwater from pooling outside the front door, a new sidewalk, interior and exterior paint and a remodel of the bathroom. A wall was also removed to expand the kitchen area.

No one knows the exact year it was built, but Berry said she knows it dates back to at least 1910.

“This is just another step in our efforts to rejuvenate and give new life to historical buildings instead of tearing them down and rebuilding something lesser in their place,” she said.

According to a history compiled on the city of Echo’s website, the town was settled in 1860, platted in 1880 and incorporated in 1904. The city provides a brochure outlining a walking tour of 23 historical sites that date back to the late 1800s or early 1900s. The building that houses city hall and the community center was built in 1916.

The city has owned the VFW building at 210 Bridge Street since January 2016, when the Echo chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars consolidated with the Pendleton chapter and the group donated the building to the city. They have since used it for council meetings and allowed community groups like 4H to meet there for free. The city’s library also stores the books it sells through Amazon there and uses it for a children’s story time.

“It’s kind of a library annex,” Berry said.

The project to update the building was paid for by grants from the Echo Community Benefit Plan, Kinsman Foundation and Wildhorse Foundation.

During Thursday’s meeting in the newly-remodeled hall, the council approved a request from Echo Ridge Cellars for three events in July, including Echo’s annual school reunion, to be able to have noise outside until 11 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. Winery director Kim Bales said the music would be stopping by 10 p.m. for each event but she wanted to cover her bases in case people were standing outside talking after that.

Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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