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Joyce Endee

Weathervane Theatre hails post-fire donors, volunteers, & workers

Whitefield Fire Chief James “Jay” Watkins, third from left, and other members of the W.F.D. — Assistant Chief Jamie Gooden, left, Explorer Travis Gooden, and firefighters Marty Culver, Jerry Greer, and Elwin Greer — were special guests at Thursday evening’s ceremonies at the Weathervane Theatre to honor their heroic and property-saving actions during the devastating fire in which the original Red Barn burned down in the early hours of Oct. 10, 2011. Working together, the W.F.D. and eight other area fire departments were able to save the now-10-year-old Theatre building, dedicated on Aug. 9, 2002. Photo by Margaret Tucker. (click for larger version)
August 15, 2012
WHITEFIELD — Managing director Lyn Winter, co-founder Gibbs Murray, artistic director Jacques Stewart, and board chairman Dan Salomon thanked the scores of people who played a role in making it possible for the Weathervane Theatre to put on its 47th consecutive summer season, starting right on time with "Bubble & Squeak" on July 7 followed by seven Mainstage shows at Thursday evening's ribbon-cutting. The original Red Barn, in which the stage had been located until 2002, was destroyed by fire along with many stored sets, costumes, and equipment in the early hours of Oct. 10, 2011.

In addition to extensive post-fire repairs, a new south wing, dressing room space, and a new tech shop were constructed in time for the 2012 season, thanks to donors, volunteers, members of the board of directors, townspeople and numerous longtime community members, Alumni Association members, and well-wishers, plus two local firms — Presby Environmental and Presby Construction.

Meyer and Ellen Koplow, who donated half the funds to the $800,000 capital campaign said that the ribbon-cutting ceremony was a "bittersweet" event, only made necessary because of the total loss of the memory-filled original Red Barn that likely dated back to the mid-19th century.

Mr. Koplow praised all those who had done the "hands-on" work, modestly pointing out that writing a check was the easy part of what had to be done with only a short timeframe available.

"Out of every catastrophe comes opportunity," the successful corporate attorney said.

Commissioner Van McLeod of the state Department of Cultural Resources read aloud a proclamation from Gov. John Lynch declaring Aug. 9 as the state's Weathervane Theatre Day.

McLeod described Whitefield as a jewel of a community that had pulled together in an extraordinary way to respond to the aftereffects of the October fire.

Nick Wyman, president of the Actors' Equity Association, thanked the brave and courageous firefighters for their efforts in saving an extraordinary landmark — the Weathervane Theatre — and for all those who had worked so hard to be able to present a full summerlong season with seven rotating Mainstage offerings.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Garnett HIll
Varney Smith
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