The Garrison Players acquired this wonderful old building in 1988. At that time it had been allowed to sink into disrepair and had not been used at all for more than 10 years.
The Building was first built in 1895 as a grange hall designed by the noted architect Alvah Thurston Ramsdell. He was a popular architect of that time period, building more than 100 area homes …. and many other buildings which survive today: The Rollinsford Town Hall, The chapel at Pine Hill Cemetery, the old Strafford Bank Building where Crescent City Bistro and other businesses are now located, the former junior high school in Dover, next to the library, and many more.
When GP first got the building (or the building got us) we raised enough money to have the building lifted up, and a full foundation poured underneath. It was definitely in need, as the back end was sinking.
The back end of the building, which includes where the stage begins, was added in the 1920’s, and not done as well. GP also added the first of four new roofs….. but that’s another story.
The years went by, and Garrison Players worked as we could on restoring this space. We removed the old cracked plaster and tore out all the lathe and then removed all the old nails, one by one!
We were energized with a $180,000 matching grant from the NH Land and Community Heritage Project. GP was able to match the funds with grants, donations, yard sales, plays …. And the heritage project was kind enough to consider all the funds we’ve raised since acquiring the building.
Tom Dunnington and a few (very few) helpers filled in every crevice to create fire stops and framed everything that needed framing. Then the building was wired and plumbed (didn’t have either) and sheet metal for heat and air conditioning was run. Then the building was insulated with spray insulation all the way to the roof peaks.
Next came sheetrock ….. hundreds of sheets of sheetrock….. lovingly installed by contractor Gary Avery who learned a few new tricks in this room, like how to deal with curves.
Then came the paint, gallons and gallons and gallons of paint, most of which has been applied by Barbara Dunnington …. With a little help from a few of us along the way. All the old woodwork was of course removed, sanded, primed, painted and reinstalled in an effort to preserve as much of the original character of the building.
A very expensive alternative exit was added to meet code, and the building has been sprinkled (although not connected to anything as yet) …. That’s another $50,000 project because there is no municipal water service here.
But we have a 620 foot well, and a commercial septic system.
We’ve added bathrooms (the old three holer is gone) and a modern galley kitchen. The basement now has storage and a “green room” for the actors.
A wonderful brick walkway curves around the building… and the outside has been repaired and painted.
All of this is to say, that many years, many thousands of hours of volunteer effort and much money has gone into preserving this grand old building and creating a wonderful performance space.
65 Years of Theatre!
1955- Caribbean Cruise
1956- The Whole Town's Talking
1957- Bell, Book and Candle & Ile & Finian's Rainbow
1958- The Meeting Will Come to Order & House on the Cliff
1959- Desk Set & Exclusive Model & Late Love
1960- The Mousetrap
1960- Shadow of a Dream & Good Housekeeping
1961- Arsenic and Old Lace & The Clod & Sabrina Fair
1962- Send Me No Flowers & Liliom & The Pleasure of His Company
1963- The Spiral Staircase & Roar Like a Dove
1964- The Gazebo & Everyone Loves Opal
1965- Oliver! & Never Too Late
1966- Barefoot in the Park
1968- Mary, Mary
1969- The Hobbit
1970- Our Nell & Trifles & See How They Run
1971- Summertree & Come Blow Your Horn
1972- Blithe Spirit & Barrel Full of Pennies
1973- Fiddler on the Roof & Tom Jones
1974- Camelot & The Curious Savage
1975- Archer & Ben are in Love Again & Pajama Game & Deadwood Dick, the Story of Gold
1976- You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown & Oklahoma & Speaking of Murder & Home at Six & Sociability
1977- By George (and Ira) & Man of LaMancha & Good News
1978- Spoon River & Vaudeville Tonight & The Miracle Worker
1979- Private Lives & Little Mary Sunshine & Carnival
1980- Evening of Transcontinental Comedy & Encore! Encore!
1981- Luv & The Music Man & Ah, Wilderness
1982- The Fantasticks & Showboat & Bus Stop
1983- Butterflies are Free & Once Upon a Mattress & They're Playing Our Song
1984- No Sex Please, We're British & Hello, Dolly! & The Desperate Hours
1985- The Apple Tree (Act 1) & A Thurber Carnival & Kiss Me Kate & My Heart Belongs to Cole
1986- Only an Orphan Girl & Iolanthe & Follies
1987- Plaza Suite & The Sound of Music & Angel Street
1988- Breakfast with Les and Bess & Annie Get Your Gun & Deadwood Dick
1989- 35th Anniversary: Putting on the Ritz II & Little Mary Sunshine
1990- South Pacific & Barefoot in the Park & Patience
1991- A Thousand Clowns & Ten Little Indians & Guys and Dolls
1992- The Glass Menagerie & Arsenic and Old Lace & Brigadoon
1993- Last of the Red Hot Lovers & Broadway Bound & Carousel
1994- Anything Goes & Seven Year Itch & Lear, the Musical (World Premiere)
1995- Bits & Pieces, a Revue & Harvey & Oklahoma!
1996- California Suite & Give My Regards to Broadway & James & the Giant Peach
1997- Gershwin, By George & Ira & 1776
1998- Best Little Whorehouse in Texas & Last of the Red Hot Lovers & The Odd Couple (female version) & Greater Tuna
1999- The Dining Room & A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
2000- Murder at Rutherford House & 'Night, Mother & Baby & Fiddler on the Roof
2001- 'Til Death Do Us Part...Part 2 & Painting Churches & The Good Old Days-Vaudeville Revisited
2002- Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat & Steel Magnolias
2003- All My Murders & I Do, I Do & My Fatal Valentine
2004- Annie Get Your Gun & 50: The Life and Times of Garrison Players & 1776 & A Voice of My Own
2005- The Pirates of Penzance & Run For Your Wife & The Fantasticks & The Cemetery Club & Little Shop of Horrors
2006- No Sooner Won Than Wed & On Golden Pond & Quilters & How the Other Half Loves & Company
2007- To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday & Into the Woods & The Road to Mecca & Academia Nuts & Two By Two
2008- We The People… & Madwoman of Chaillot & Our Town & Nunsense & The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940
2009- Footloose & Bottoms Up! & Love, Sex & the IRS & The Foreigner & History of the Roses
2010- The Miracle Worker & Over the River & Through the Woods & The Importance of Being Earnest & The Odd Couple & Crimes of the Heart
2011- The Dining Room & Honk! & Don’t Dress for Dinner & The Butler Did It & The Hound of the Baskervilles
2012 - I Remember Mama & I Hate Hamlet & Steel Magnolias & A Midsummer Night's Dream
2013 - 1776 & The Nerd & Saving Grace & Lend Me a Tenor & It's a Wonderful Life: a Live Radio Play
2014 - A Flea in Her Ear & Harvey & Seussical, Jr & Sex Please We're Sixty & Legally Blonde, Jr & Twelve Angry Men & Miracle on 34th Street: a Live Radio Play
2015 - The Odd Couple & You Can't Take It With You & Cinderella & The Mousetrap & Sorry Wrong Number & The Hitchhiker: a Live Radio Play & Shrek Jr & Not On This Night
2016 - Almost, Maine & It Runs in the Family & 9 to 5: The Musical & Beauty and the Beast, Jr. & Who's in Bed with the Butler & Little Old Ladies in Tennis Shoes & Little Mermaid, Jr & 101 Dalmatians, Kids & Christmas Cabaret & The Shadow: Holiday Radio Show
2017 - Things My Mother Taught Me & Deathtrap & Inherit the Wind & Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jr & Guys and Dolls, Jr & Calendar Girls & Into the Woods, JR & Jungle Book, Kids & Cricket on the Hearth: A Live Radio Show
2018 - Moonlight and Magnolias & Rumors & You're a good man, Charlie Brown & Grease (High School Edition) & High School Musical, Jr