Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall - WWI New York Guard in front

Memorial Hall was a gift to the town of Pine Plains by philanthropist Mary Ellen Lapham Saunders of Yonkers. It was given in honor of her maternal grandparents John and Elizabeth McIntyre, with whom she had lived as a child in Pine Plains, and their children. The primary intent of the gift was to provide church-going people a place to hold their social functions.

During WWI it was used as an armory for the 1st and 2nd platoons of Company G, 1st Infantry, New York Guard.

Men's Club dinner in Memorial Hall basement

It was later divided into rooms which local organizations could use for their meetings. Unfortunately, the various groups and churches left over the years to provide their own facilities, and Memorial Hall lost most of its financial support.

In 1935 the entire building became a movie theater, Pine Plains Theatre. The first manager was Lewis Bucken of Amenia. Nearly two hundred people attended the opening night show which was The Wedding Night with Gary Cooper and Anna Sten. The theater also showed local home movies (“newsreels”) and live entertainment. An annual Christmas party was held for the children on Christmas day, and a weekly drawing, called “Bank Night”, was very popular.

The theater became a testing site for first run films before they were debuted in New York City. Their showing of Gone with the Wind in 1940 was one of the first in the area.

In 1955, a syndicate from New Jersey called April Theatres Corp. took over management of the theater. New seating was installed; according to the 1956 Film Daily Yearbook, the theatre had 284 seats at this time.

In 1959 it was the original proposed site for Mid-Hudson Library System, but Poughkeepsie was chosen instead. It was also considered for a town hall, but plans fell through for that, too.

In April of 1968 the building was deeded to the Town of Pine Plains. The town board set aside $4,000 for demolition of the structure but never completed the removal.

In 1975 the building was sold by the town to a local group who planned to renovate it for businesses. Called Pine Mall, the movie theater was removed and the interior remodeled to support businesses on three floors.

Over the next 25 years it housed a coffee shop, a video store, a laundromat, a dance studio in the loft, and other businesses. During this time the property went through a series of owners. Although listed in the 2004 Pine Plains Comprehensive Plan as a cultural resource, the building never regained its role as a community center.

In 2014 the property was purchased at auction by Jack Banning, owner of Pine Plains Platter, Christian Eisenbeiss, owner of the Stissing House, and Ariel Schlein, co-owner of Dutch's Spirits distillery, with an eye toward revitalizing the town center. It's new name is The Stissing Center.

See how the renovation work is progressing and contribute

(see also "Exhibits" page)