Researcher seeks aid in preserving memory of historic Cleveland Scout Hall

The old Cleveland Scout Hall at Ormiston. Photo: Brett Eldridge

A Griffith University researcher is calling for public assistance in gathering photographic and other material to memorialise Ormiston’s historic Cleveland Scout Hall.

The hall, a vital part of the Ormiston community fabric for more than half a century, was destroyed in a catastrophic arson attack in March 2018.

With a new hall currently under construction, PhD candidate Jessica Stroja has volunteered to gather memorabilia relating to the original building for the installation of a permanent commemorative display in the replacement premises.

“This hall was far more than a building,” Ms Stroja said. “It was an integral part of the community fabric and a community gathering place in the Redlands.

“Children and young people from the surrounding area gathered here, numerous interest groups were based at the site, and memories abounded for the many Redlands community members who came here for friendship, laughter, and the sense of community spirit that epitomises the area.”

An experienced heritage researcher, Ms Stroja was a guest editor of a special issue of Queensland Review in December 2018, focusing on heritage, community engagement and the importance of heritage for communities.

The skills she developed and opportunities undertaken during her PhD candidature at Griffith have further stoked her desire to assist Project Manager Doug Ross and the wider Ormiston community with enshrining a piece of local history that means so much, to so many, she says.

“Following the announcement of the new hall, it was quickly realised the replacement building does not hold the same meaning for the community as the previous building,” Ms Stroja said.

“To compound the tragedy, the collection of photographs and historic memorabilia held at the hall were completely destroyed in the fire.

“Drawing on the Queensland Review special issue and the heritage-related aspects of my thesis, I am working with the Scouts to identify as many photographs and other materials relating to the hall as possible to develop a connection between the heritage of the destroyed hall, and its new replacement.”

In gathering content for the new display, Ms Stroja has stressed that individuals or organisations wishing to contribute to the memorial project need not part with any precious original photographs or other materials relating to the historic hall. Rather, she says, “We’re happy for people to send us copies, or to make copies for them”.

The original Cleveland Scout Hall was gifted to the Scouts by the American Navy following World War II. The new building, which will include a suite of significant upgrades, is expected to be completed in August.

People or organisations wishing to contribute to the Cleveland Scout Hall memorial project are encouraged to contact Ms Stroja at jessica.stroja@griffithuni.edu.au.