Holy Ghost Festas -- Halls

Initially, the festas took place in parks and other outdoor venues, or in community halls owned by civic groups.

Years:  1885 — 2020

Building the Halls

Initially, the Portuguese celebrations took place in parks and other outdoor venues, or in community halls owned by the Masons, the IOOF, and other civic groups.  Soon, the societies began to acquire their own halls in which to hold their festas.  In some instances, existing buildings were purchased and converted into halls.  There are numerous examples of purchased buildings being moved, sometimes by teams of horses, to a new site.

Financing the Venture

While the experience of each organization is different, a pattern of generosity in donating land, money, labor, and materials was consistent in each community.  In the 1890s, society members in Mendocino worked ten years to save sufficient funds to build Crown Hall, while in Arcata, Manuel Rocha made a significant loan to complete construction of the Portuguese hall there.  In recent times, society members have taken loans on their own homes to secure financing to improve their halls.

The Halls

The structures vary widely in design, some being simple, single-story buildings, while many are two-story buildings with dance areas on both levels.  This enabled those in attendance to enjoy “chammaritas” on one floor while enjoying contemporary dancing on the other.

Disasters and Setbacks

Since most of the buildings were made of wood, over the years, some halls were destroyed or damaged by fire, and with them the original records and documents of the societies.  In 1992, the I.E.S. Hall in San José was destroyed by a seven-alarm fire caused by faulty wiring.  In less than a year, it was completely rebuilt in time for the June festa.  In other cases, deterioration of the buildings, changes in zoning, and redevelopment projects resulted in the demolition of the older buildings.

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