A large crowd fills Thurber Hall in this old photo. Note the second-floor gallery, which has since been closed off and is no longer visible.

Harold Thurber, a prominent rancher near Sonoita, started fundraising in 1953 for a hall to be added to the Patagonia Community Church “for the use of all children of the community regardless of race, creed or color.” He never gave up on the fundraising, and it took six years with donors from as far away as Tucson, before construction of the Community Hall and Youth Center finally started in 1959. 

Thurber was involved with the Pima County Fair and wanted to bring entertainment acts to Patagonia because he felt it was difficult for townspeople to get to the Fair because of transportation and costs. After the Hall was constructed, fair performers came to Patagonia with their aerial acts, as well as others that required a stage. Note the second-floor gallery in this photo.

The Hall was named Thurber Hall in 1963 to honor the man who wouldn’t let the project fail. Because of its large size and curtained stage, Thurber Hall has seen continual community use over the years for events and meetings, as well as serving as the local emergency shelter. 

Watch for upcoming celebrations for the church’s centennial this year with community potlucks, dances, and special events in Thurber Hall. Even if it’s not aerial acts, joyful spirits will continue to fly under its roof.