This rather sorry looking building still stands tall on a knoll not far from the Highway 18 overpass as you approach it on the Maple Valley Highway. It’s been modernized and is now home to the Maple Valley Food Bank and the Cedar Lodge events center.
But, its history as a gathering place goes back over 80 years. During the depression money was tight and locals had no place to go, so in 1932 a group of citizens cleaned up a chicken coop where the Century Link telephone facilities building sits at the intersection of Maxwell Road and S.E. 216th.
Calling themselves the “Unemployed League” they held dances, charging 15-cent admission until the chicken coop burned down.
With land gifted from W.D. Gibbon and hardware from ‘Papa’ Joe Mezzavilla, this new community building was constructed with donated supplies and volunteer labor at a new site on Hwy 169.
The interior was furnished with old growth cedar and exposed beam construction, later covered with acoustic panels. The building was completed in 1937, becoming the Maple Valley Community Club. In 1949, the Club incorporated with five trustees: Joe Mezzavilla, Roger Williams, Ralph Glidewell, Ralph Brown, and Thomas Norris. Much of the community mindedness originated with Papa Joe, who owned the nearby Serve-U store (later Maple Valley Market, which closed in Jan. 2018 and is now vacant).
Joe was a charter member of several early clubs and the driving force behind the original volunteer fire department. By 1984, the Club building was lease to the Maple Valley Lions, when this photo was taken. In 1992, the building was sold to the Maple Valley Food Bank for $12,000. A 2005 remodel greatly increased the footprint of the combined buildings, which now cover 10,000 square feet, most of which is devoted to the Food Bank.
The original space shown in this photo was leased by Real Life Church from 2006-2011, and now operates as a special events and wedding venue housed in the beautiful, wood-paneled Cedar Lodge. This photo and background information comes courtesy of the Maple Valley Historical Society.