A benefactor who wants to remain anonymous has pledged money for the restoration of the theater in , namely the replacement of the cornice trim, with a promise that, if in the future the audio system is upgraded, the benefactor will pay to bring the opera to Edmond Town Hall.
"She's going to make it happen," said Jim Juliano, head of the volunteer .
Workers from Kronenberger & Sons Restoration in Middletown have been at the town hall for three weeks repairing and replacing the decorative trim, which has been damaged for the past 25 years as water leaks have degraded the plasterwork.
"The exciting thing was when we found the original pieces," Board of Managers member Karen Pierce said.
The work may have cost more than the estimated $60,000 or so had the Board of Managers not found a supply of some of the original ornate trim used to construct the town hall in 1929 when Newtown's beloved benefactor Mary Hawley commissioned the town hall in honor of William Edmond, her great grandfather who also served as a soldier, lawyer, congressman and judge.
While components of the complicated original trim was discovered, including some of the ornate plaster flowers embedded in the ceiling molding, the housing for the flowers have to be hand carved from plaster, according to David Massey, one of the Kronenberger workers.
Only one other molding component, a trim that sits flush against the ceiling, had to be made from scratch, Massey said. The other part of the tedious work includes sanding down the plaster to allow for smooth application of paint, he said.
After 80 or so years, the town hall has withstood the test of time with many of its original features, including a steam boiler room once powered by coal and a gymnasium with the original wood floor.
The old building was constructed rock solid, said Juliano, who was trained in the field of heating, ventialtion and air condition and is as intimate with the inner workings of the historic building as anyone in town. He cited the 2-foot walls and 15-foot concrete floors in some areas that would no longer be found in modern construction because they would be too expensive to build.
"Mary Hawley did a classy job," Juliano said.
It struck him recently that many people have little knowledge about what is happening at the town hall, which was one of the reasons the Board of Managers organized a tour of the building for members of the news media early Mon., Dec. 19.
Now that all of the town offices have moved away from the building – now housed at the Municipal Center – the Board of Managers has been able to rent out the space left behind.
While the building still bears the name, "Edmond Town Hall," etched in the marble outside of the structure, its uses are far from a town hall. The rents out a studio and offices. An artists' group, a homeschooling organization, Parent Connections nonprofit, the Chamber of Commerce and the Visiting Nurses Association thrift shop also lease office or retail space in the town hall.
Through rent, including leasing gym space for recreational uses and the for private parties, and revenue from the ever-popular $2 movies and concession sales, the town hall annually brings in about $750,000, Juliano said. The town contributes another $160,000 as of the latest budget.
Together, the nearly $1 million is used for maintenance of the building, including to pay for renovations, such as in the gym. Over the spring, workers installed new windows, replaced a damaged piece of the maple wood flooring and repainted the gymnasium.
In the spring, plans also are in place to repair and restore the building's original clock and cupola.