This article was first published in the Community Center News, Spring/Summer 1988. It is now posted on the website of The River Reporter for its enduring interest as an item of local history.
Line sketch of Hermann Hall on the grounds of the Delaware Community Center, Creamery Road, Callicoon, New York

History of the Delaware Community Center
Delaware Youth Center, Inc. - Callicoon, New York

Taken in 1916 on what is now known as the Delaware Community Center field. Right to left, Front row: Charles Engert, Arthur Dering, Harold Persbacker, Percy Hill, Matt Collins, manager; Back row: Wat Tyler, Norman Persbacker, William Kenny, Cornelius Graebner, Corwin Valentine, Clarence Fortnam; Very back: Etta Kothe.

There is a rich heritage contained in the organizational records of the Delaware Community Center. Over the years, much community goodwill and cooperation has focused on this particular tract of land, situated at the confluence of a major free-flowing river and a prime trout stream.
In a 1964 address, former Town of Delaware historian Valleau Curtis quoted his great-grandfather, James C. Curtis' description of the location:
The local terrain presented an entirely different picture in 1750 than it does today. Along this river bottom land stood groves of sturdy white pine trees towering 150 feet into the air and measuring five to six feet in diameter. One such grove stood where the Callicoon Creek flowed into the Delaware River.
Originally, the area included a farm owned by Silas Traynor and a small tract owned by James I Curtis. Early in this century, people began using the spot for sandlot baseball and other forms of informal and organized recreation.
The Delaware Athletic Association, Inc. was organized on November 31, 1931 by the following incorporators: John F. Lynch, George R. Mills, Neil Tobin, C.P. Kautz and Charles E. Lewis, all of Callicoon.
Purposes of the association included "the establishment and equipping, maintaining and operating of community buildings, playgrounds, swimming pools, recreational areas and structures for all... educational and recreational means, for the use of the members of the community," according to the certificate of incorporation.
After World War IX, on October 20, 1947, a similar group revitalized itself, with greater involvement by some of the women of the community, as the Callicoon Aid Center, Inc., with purposes similar to the DAA. Its initial board of directors included: Lawrence R. Milk, Howard T. Bullis, Fred W. Stabbert, William Buddenhagen, Frank Davidson, Melvera H. Lovell, William Dexter, Edwin C. Hermann and Arthur L. Geiselman, variously of Callicoon and Hortonville.
A beautiful parcel previously owned by Martin and Elizabeth Hermann, and later by the Callicoon Volunteer Fire Department, was conveyed to the Center on October 30, 1947. A covenant in the deed promised that the property would "at all times hereafter be used as a community recreation center". In the event that the Center ever ceased to function as such, the deed staled "title to the said premises shall revert back to the Callicoon Volunteer Fire Department, Inc."
Herb Persbacker was listed as fire chief, and William L. Bergnet as president of the DAA.
Under Dr. Mills' leadership, following several tragic drownings in the Delaware, a swimming pool was constructed on the site by the Martin Hermann Lumber Co. and numerous community volunteers. The Callicoon Coal Co. did the original plumbing, and Henry Neumann the electrical wiring, according to a Memorial Day 1949 dedication speech by Dr. Mills.
In his remarks, Dr. Mills noted that only with enthusiastic broad-based support of community members could the facility ever have been possible.
"There have been hundreds of man hours spent on this field gratis and to date the Callicoon Aid Center has raised over $13,000 by contributions, field day, baseball, card and bingo parties. In our drive for funds hundreds of persons contributed as you can see by the fact that there were only 23 donors of $100 or more - and still we raised $13,000," Dr. Mills said.
The master of ceremonies at the dedication ceremony was E.T. Rumble, M.D., who worked with Dr. Mills in leading the movement for a community swimming pool.
It seems to have been the dear intent of the pool's builders and original contributors that their labors would primarily benefit the young people of the area. Yet swimminc2was also open to adults on a limited schedule and at a modest fee.
According to a contemporary account in the Sullivan County Democrat: "the first dip in the new pool... was made by Miss Helen Manouse. One of the more personable young ladies of this section, she was attractive in a new bathing suit. Diving from the springboard, the swam the length of the pool in spite of the temperature which was too cold for swimming."
Two years later, on April 25, 1951, a certificate of name change for the organization was fired by Dr. Mills, changing the name to the Callicoon Aid Center to Delaware Youth Center, Inc. On May 16, 1964, Town of Delaware native Grover M. Hermann's generous gift to local people was completed, in the form of an immense community hall. A plaque on the western interior wall states the structure was "dedicated to our youth".
Another marker stands "in memory of everyone who makes this possible," and names four specific individuals: Grover Hermann, Valleau Curtis, Carol Brooks, and George R. Mills, M.D.
Over the next 20 years, thousands of valley residents would spend countless wholesome and enjoyable hours at Hermann Hall and on its grounds, in activities including weddings, roller-skating, picnics, organized aerobics, softball games, handball, canoe regattas, field days, public banquets, ice hockey, basketball, dances, and other recreative and social functions for young and old.
A free young people's summer recreational program was organized in 1984, one half funded by the NYS Division for Youth through the Sullivan County Youth Bureau.
Financial support is also received from the towns of Delaware and Fremont, for both youth and senior functions.
Andrew Ranaudo, a physical education teacher at Delaware Valley Central School, has directed the summer youth program since its inception.
Since the Center is also home for the Delaware Valley Senior Citizens and other non-"youth" uses, on March 16, 1984, then president Peter LaFleur filed a certificate with the County Clerk, registering the assumed name of Delaware Community Center. But the formal, legal name to the not-for-profit corporation which owns the building and grounds remains what it was when the hall was built.
Commitment to the concept of diversified community involvement was recently restated by the present board, on October 13, 1987, when they amended the corporate by-laws to say: "Amendment I. Hermann Hall shall be open for use, by any community group or organization for any purpose not prohibited by law, subject to a fee schedule to be established and periodically revised by and in the discretion of the board of directors."
Over the years, there have been moments of crisis for the Community Center. But through consistent private financial support, a spirit of voluntarism and civic pride, this vicinity still possess one of the most impressive community facilities of any comparably populated area in the bi state region as well as a wide range of programs and organized activities.

Community Center News is published by Delaware Youth Center, Inc., PO Box 354, Callicoon, NY 12723.
It is mailed to residents in the towns of Delaware, Fremont, and Cochecton in New York, and Damascus Township, Pennsylvania. Additional copies are available upon request.
Board of Directors
Name Residence Occupation
Tom Rue, president Milanville, Pennsylvania Probation officer
Jane Buddenhagen, vice-president Hortonville, New York Guidance counselor
Joyce Sykes, secretary Callicoon, New York Insurance agent
Barry Schuchman, treasurer Damascus, Pennsylvania Restaurant owner
Roe Bedford Callicoon, New York Homemaker
Holly Keyser Callicoon, New York Phys-ed teacher
Clarence Kratz Hortonville, New York General store owner
Michele Schuchman Damascus, Pennsylvania Restaurant owner
Pete Sigelakis Callicoon, New York Auto mechanic

the Rue Morgue

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