The young apprentices working with flashlights in the crawl space under the 1909 dance floor at Drexel Hall, noticed reflections of light coming from a small crater in a far corner of the dirt sub-floor.

What they discovered were the remains of 110 years of parties, high school dances and wedding receptions and, more than likely, a few labor meetings and rallies.

A cache of old time beer cans and whiskey bottles.

“We all laughed,” said Local 124’s Business Manager, John Fennesy. “We blamed it on the Bakers’ union
guys that worked in that building for so many years.”

Organized by Local 124’s President, Todd Howerton, some 20 men and women of the union showed up on a recent Saturday to replace hundreds of feet of old wiring, and help make the old building’s electrical system safer and more efficient.

Said Todd: “It was a great opportunity for the veterans and recent retirees to show the younger journeymen and apprentices how to study and deal with a network of circuits and boxes that have been added and modified many times over a period of a hundred years. I think everybody had a good time and learned a lot, as well.”

Due to pandemic restrictions on large gatherings, the Irish Center and its Drexel Hall event space have been struggling financially, as many hall rentals for wedding receptions and other gatherings have been cancelled this year.

“The time and talents of the men and women of Local 124 have been a Godsend,” said Nancy Wormington, the Irish Center’s executive director. “It just reinforces how valuable unions and their tradespeople are, with their extraordinary knowledge and training, and their solidarity with one another.”

Wormington noted that, in the past year, the Irish Center has also benefitted from the skills and generosity of Plumbers and Gas Fitters Local 8, and Operative Plasterers’ & Cement Masons’ Local 518.

“It is so fitting that labor and its supporters have come to our rescue,” said Wormington. “So many of our Irish families in Kansas City were raised in union households, with union work ethics and values. Unions helped made our Irish community strong and successful.”