NE corner Sykes and Nelson
When Meaford's original Town Hall burned in 1907, it allowed Town leaders to envision a grander building, and within a year, the cornerstone of the new Meaford Hall and Opera House was laid. It would be the largest municipal building in the County of Grey, declared Mayor Horsley. "Its massive and graceful outlines will stand as a monument to prosperity and progress.. .and doubtless will be for many generations one of its prominent landmarks."
The building housed the council chambers (which doubled as a courtroom), town offices, two small jail cells, and the Meaford Public Library. Farmers used the basement on market day, and in time this space served as ballroom, meeting area, and Boy Scout hall. Later divided into smaller rooms, it housed the Women's Institute, the Meaford Quilters, a Senior Citizen's club, and the Senior Men's Euchre Club.
The second-floor Opera House featured a broad stage beneath a proscenium arch, rows of wooden seats (fitted with wire racks for gentlemen's hats), and a balcony embellished with raised plasterwork acanthus leaves. It played host to travelling entertainers, the Meaford Citizens Band, live theatre, and local events in a theatre known for its exceptional acoustics.
In 1991, a group of local citizens lobbied to have Meaford designate Meaford Hall as "being of architectural and historical value or interest". A few years after both the Hall and the Fire Hall were successfully designated, this group formed Heritage Meaford in part to lead efforts to restore the Hall. Heritage Meaford played a major role in securing SuperBuild funding for the restoration.
Today Meaford Hall is a shining example of how heritage buildings can play a major role in the cultural, artistic and economic life of a community.