This weekend I got to see a live performance at Union Hall Theater in Chesterhill. I mentioned it yesterday but wanted to give it some attention of its own.
I was there once, one hot summer day, when my Aunt Janice took me inside. She worked in the Kate Love Simpson Morgan County Library, which inhabits the first floor, and had access to the second floor theater.
This place felt like a time capsule. It seemed as though they turned off the lights after a show and just walked away. At the time, there was talk of someone trying to reopen the theater but I don’t recall there being a real plan. I sat in the balcony and swore that if it ever reopened I would return for a performance.
It was built in 1908 and hosted all sorts of live performances over the years. When movies came into vogue, they began showing films too. I don’t know much else about the place but there is a non-profit organization working to revive it.
Make no mistake. This theater has not been restored. Some of the tin ceiling tiles show damage and the floors are worn from use. But it’s clean and all those signs of wear lend character. It’s not a fancy space like some theaters of that period. That may be one reason I like it so well. There is a sparseness, a simplicity that makes all of the details that much more beautiful. I suppose that is appropriate since the town was founded by Quakers.
I don’t know what plans are in the works but I really hope they don’t change the feel of the place. It feels at once old and timeless, plain and yet special. It is special and I hope to go back again someday. If I lived closer I would volunteer to help with their PR or something else useful but I’m a little too far away to be helpful.
Want to learn more? Here’s their website. You can also follow them on Facebook. I imagine they would be happy to receive monetary donations and would be thrilled to see your smiling face in a seat for a show someday.