DERRY — Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a $20,000 grant earmarked for painting and plaster repairs to the Derry Opera House. The funds will go to the Greater Derry Arts Council.
Hassan said she is grateful for the Executive Council’s action and the positive impact the Opera House has on the community.“I thank the Executive Council for approving this grant to help revitalize the Derry Opera House, a unique New Hampshire landmark and source of pride for the entire Derry community,” Hassan said. “The Derry Opera House not only helps our economy by providing wonderful entertainment, but the special venue brings friends, family and neighbors together for numerous public events, strengthening the Derry community and enriching the cultural fabric of our state.”
The work is definitely needed, as the Opera House hasn’t been painted in a number of years and the plaster is showing signs of age, said Public Works Director Michael Fowler. He thanked Arts Council trustees Dave Nelson and Matt Cahoon for starting the application process and seeking the funding.
“I want to give them full credit,” Fowler said, adding “they were the ones who submitted the application.”
Fowler said the walls in the Opera House aren’t the typical sheet rock design seen in more modern buildings but are part of a specialized construction that can begin to break down over time.
“When the plaster begins to break away, it requires some restoration and painting,” Fowler said.
The work is separate from a project to repair the structure of the Adams Memorial Building, which houses the Opera House, along with the Greater Derry–Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, Derry Housing Authority and town museum.
The Adams Memorial Building will need about $150,000 in ceiling and roof work that prompted the closing of the balcony, Fowler said.
A structural review of the building was completed in September and revealed some major overstressing of beams.
There was so much stress being placed on the beams that the balcony had to be closed, Fowler said.
He is scheduled to present some results of a recent structural review to town councilors at their Tuesday meeting.
A public hearing is scheduled for March 4 on a supplemental appropriation of $130,000 for the structural repairs. The money would come from the Public Works capital reserve fund. The town already has $20,000 available for the project as part of the current budget, Fowler said.
If councilors approve the project, it could be bid out in mid-May, Fowler said. The Opera House would then be shut down in August, when there aren’t any events scheduled, and work would begin in at the start of the month. If all goes as planned, the project could be completed by the end of August, Fowler said.