Having lived in Jamestown, N.Y., for 55-years, Michael Hall had no choice but to be a Lucille Ball fan.
The small town has a vast pride for its connection to its native-born comedienne, with the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center, a museum dedicated to "the first couple of comedy.”
Jamestown is also home to the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival.
Hall, who is a design consultant in Destin, wasn't just an attendant at these Lucy-related events, but with his affinity of history and old Hollywood, he used his design skills for several Lucy projects while making friends with Lucille Ball's childhood friend, Marion Strong, now deceased and Lucie Arnaz, the daughter of Lucille and Desi Arnaz.
"You never heard her say one bad thing about Lucy," Hall said of Strong. "She was a very sweet lady, very unassuming and never got possessive over her connection to Lucy."
Of Lucie Arnaz, Hall said she had a good handle on her mother's popularity even after her mother’s 1989 death.
"If you were from Jamestown and knocked on her door, she would invite you in with a cup of coffee," he said.
Having an eye for interior and exterior design, Hall was asked to help decorate events during the annual comedy festival — including a gala dedicated to guest of honor, Mickey Rooney. Past featured comedians include Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell and Ray Romano. Hall has a degree in scenic design and spent three years in Ontario, Canada, working in theater design.
Perhaps the more notable projects Hall contributed to was the restoration of Ball's childhood home and the Palace Theatre, now named the Reg Lenna Civic Center. It was at Palace, that “Forever, Darling,” starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, had its world premiere.
"She always had a willingness to be tied to Jamestown," Hall recalled.
In preparation to restore Ball's childhood home, Hall did a lot of research to make sure the home would be preserved in its original condition, by looking at old photographs and reading biographies. He was surprised to see the house was in good condition considering its age. The original linoleum floors were still intact. During the work, Hall had plenty of time to reflect on the legacy of Ball.
"She lived just three blocks from Lake Celoron, where there was an amusement park that rivaled Coney Island," Hall said. "That's where she learned her craft."
The last Lucille Ball-related project Hall worked on was a fashion show featuring outfits from Ball's extensive wardrobe collection. Lucie Arnaz sent two semi-trucks filled with clothes to use in the show.
"I was just going through all of her stuff," Hall said excitedly. "In the end, Lucie loved it."
When Hall was offered a job at Thomasville of Destin in 2005, he and his wife Patty made the move to Santa Rosa Beach. Hall has grown accustomed to the congeniality of Southerners, the proximity to the Gulf and beautiful, blue skies, he said.
Hall still keeps a piece of Jamestown with him whenever he shares a Lucy story or fun fact with his customers.
"People seem to get a big charge out of it," he said.