May 24, 2022

Deep River Town Auditorium Restoration Nearing Completion

Painters are busy sprucing up the newly restored Deep River auditorium

Painters are busy sprucing up the newly restored Deep River auditorium (photo by Jerome Wilson)

DEEP RIVER— The long-running restoration of the second-floor auditorium at the historic 1892 town hall is nearing completion, with a community open house scheduled for May 1 setting the stage for wider public use of the facility.

A restoration project that began in 1979 had been brought to completion over the past year by the Town Hall Auditorium Restoration Committee that was appointed by the board of selectmen in late 2011. The nine-member volunteer committee, chaired by former Selectman Art Thompson, replaced the Town Hall Restoration Association, a private group that began the restoration effort more than three decades earlier.

Former Deep River Selectman Art Thompson supervising the improvements

Former Deep River Selectman Art Thompson supervising the improvements (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Thompson said this week the committee held its first meeting in January 2012, and quickly accessed a $260,000 fund that had been gathered largely through private donations by the former association. Thompson said the work that began last spring is now in it’s final stages, and has been entirely paid for by the available funds with no additional appropriations from the town.

Thompson said the latest improvements have resolved all building and fire code issues for the auditorium, allowing for public use of the auditorium balcony and an ornate rear staircase for the first time in several years. Seats that had been on the main floor have been relocated to the balcony to create a hall with a seating capacity of 279 persons, including 129 seats on the balcony and 150 on the main floor. But the main floor seats are all moveable, allowing for multi-use of the hall for dances and other programs that do not require seating.

Other improvements completed over the past year include a new control booth on the balcony, a small kitchen on the south aide of the building, air conditioning, new fire resistant stage curtains, and a slightly larger stage.

Thompson said the committee consulted with members of the former restoration association, and followed their guidance in choosing colors for the repainting- red for the lower levels and grey for the upper levels. He said the committee used local contractors for nearly all of the restoration work. A movable chandelier attached to the upper ceiling was provided by Schofield Lighting of Ivoryton.

The center ceiling of the newly restored Deep River Auditorium

The center ceiling of the newly restored Deep River Auditorium (photo by Jerome Wilson)

A new five-member committee is being formed by the board of selectmen to supervise promotions and scheduling for the 279 seat hall. Already appointed to the Town Hall Auditorium Management Committee are Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., and resident Linalyn Schmelzer, who had been handling scheduling for the former restoration association. Three additional members will be appointed before the hall is opened for wider public use in May.