B.D.E.S. Benicia Holy Ghost Restoration Committee
RESTORE THE PORTUGUESE HALL!
A plea to the Benicia community, by Kirsten Langston
A few months ago, at our regular meeting of the Benicia Holy Ghost Committee, I got bored; as I tuned out the very important things people were saying, my eyes began to wander the room. What can I say? I have a short attention span. I make no excuses. I started looking around the Hall. The Portuguese Hall, as many call it, is like a second home to me, as it is to many people who grew up in Benicia.
Every single summer of my life, I’ve gone to the Hall for the festa and parade. I cannot recall a time in my life when July did not mean little girls in big white dresses, the scent of fresh flowers, the smell of sopas wafting down First Street. And of course, there has always been the Hall. That great old building, looming impressively over West J Street, is comforting; it is a comfort to me knowing it has always been there, knowing that it always will be there. The B.D.E.S. Portuguese Hall has been a constant for most Benicia residents. The Hall has seen ninety-four Holy Ghost parades. It has also housed countless crab feeds, weddings and wakes, not to mention it is the home of the Benicia Old Towne Theater Group. I can remember being very young and my aunt taking me to see their shows at the Hall. I was enthralled by the magic they created.
As I looked around at the meeting that night, it became apparent to me that my home away from home was clearly passed her prime. She sagged a bit around the edges, her lovely wood benches and floors had lost their gleam. She was starting to look old. Who can remember climbing that flight of stairs to the upper level of the building? As a child, shoes eating up that carpet as fast as you could, as a young adult, swaggering or sashaying leisurely, or as an older adult, taking your time, because you’ve made that walk so many times before. Me? I still run. But now when I do, I look at the worn carpet beneath my feet; I leap off that top step into the foyer and see the broken balcony door and faded paint.
This place, that has seen so many tears and so much laughter, this place that provides a venue for family and friends and even strangers to meet, needs our help now. The building was built in 1915 and she is starting to show her age.
Not one to rest on my laurels, I immediately formed the B.D.E.S. Restoration Committee. This committee is dedicated to seeing the building restored to its’ former grandeur. We have decided to host a series of fundraisers to meet our goal. Of course we cannot do this alone and are counting on the members of the Benicia community to help our cause.
Check back soon, for new fundraiser info.