From the very beginning, the building that currently houses the Great Falls Community Recreation Center was designed to offer recreational facilities to the youth of Great Falls.
The building was originally built by DeMolay. The center was built as a memorial to DeMolays who had died in World War II – especially the 15 from Great Falls. The DeMolay newsletter from February 1946 described the memorial as: "Not just a cold harsh, silent mass of bronze and stone, but a vital, living, enduring, ever-growing memorial that will serve through the ages to remind all of the service of our valiant brothers."
The cornerstone was laid on August 15, 1949. Designed for community and not just member use, programs offered ranged from basketball and bowling to dances and roller-skating. To this day, long time residents who visit the Center tell staff about the good times they had at the DeMolay.
DeMolay was in its hey-day when the Center was built, but as times and culture changed, membership declined. In the 1980s the building was in decline. It was still used occasionally by Great Falls Public Schools, for example, who held learning disability testing and math-olympics events there.
By the mid-90s the owners of the disused building put it on the market. In 1996, Great Falls Park and Recreation staff came up with an idea to buy the building and return it to its original function as a teen recreation center. On January 7, 1997, the City Commission authorized the purchase of the building, and in July the Community Recreation Center opened its doors.
The project started slowly, and not many people realized that the "Old DeMolay" building was once again housing activities, but the staff was dedicated to making the Community Recreation Center work. Now, and into the future, the wide variety of activities offered by the Community Recreation Center will continue to keep this special building humming with activity.
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