WALLINGFORD — The Hungarian Community Club was established in Wallingford 100 years ago this month, and members are celebrating the centennial on Saturday with a sold-out banquet dinner.
About 140 people are expected to attend the event, which is slated to feature music by the Erno Olah Orchestra, of the capital city Budapest, and speeches by the Hungarian ambassador to the United States and the Hungarian consulate of New York, as well as Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. and state Rep. Mary Mushinsky.
Dr. Balazs Somogyi, of Cheshire, arrived in the U.S. in 1958, two years after the Hungarian Revolution. The uprising in October 1956 in Budapest against the post-war government spread throughout the country and was eventually crushed by Soviet troops.
Somogyi said he’s been a member of the Hungarian club since the 1970s.
“A lifetime,” he said.
When the First Hungarian Youth Club and Senior Hungarian Men's Club merged in October 1918, the Hungarian Community Club was formed.
The Hungarian Community Hall, 147 Ward St., was completed in December 1924, according to the club website.
“It became a very important meeting place for Hungarians, or ‘Magyars,’” which means “Hungarian” in their native language, Somogyi said.
“It had its heyday in the ‘40s and ‘60s,” he said. “There was a decline, but in 2006, a new group came to the club and rejuvenated the club.” The club has about 250 members now.
“People are interested,” Somogyi said. “People want to maintain the club and support its use.”
The club has sponsored an annual cultural festival, which was put on hold this year for the club’s centennial dinner, as well as a May ball, Octoberfest and New Year’s Eve celebration.
Visiting orchestras and folk ensembles also perform regularly, Somogyi said.
In 1992, fire heavily damaged the interior of the hall, burning part of the wall and roof. The blaze was part of a spate of arson fires that had been erupting around town for more than a year.