About The Historic Theater
Step over the threshold of this landmark 1878 Victorian theater—the oldest in New Hampshire—and into the Beaux Arts Founders Lobby. Go upstairs, and through the restored upper lobby is the elegant 895-seat auditorium that has welcomed artists ranging from Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, and Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show to Tony Bennett and Ray Lamontagne. Patrons greet friends and neighbors in this community great room, a gathering place for conversation dating back to the days of Frederick Douglass. The original hardwood floor and horseshoe balcony ensure superior acoustics for stage and screen events.
Maintaining an American Treasure
Bringing a Historic Theater Built in 1878 into the 21st Century—It takes a Village
We live in an area rich with history and tales to tell, and our Historic Theater has an abundance of stories. Built in 1878 by shipwrights, we are proud to be one of the last remaining “hemp houses” in the country, still using the original rigging system from 1901 that depends on rope, block and tackle, and counterweight to raise the curtain and make theatrical magic happen. Our acoustically rich space has inspired artists like The Indigo Girls and Brandi Carlile in their own work.
As proud as we are of our historic roots, modern amenities are necessary to keep up with the times. A decade ago, we celebrated the completion of a restoration and renovation that included our award-winning restrooms and the lower lobby. In 2020 we replaced the Historic Theater’s HVAC with a state-of-the-art system complete with hospital-grade MERV13 filters. Our lighting system was updated in 2021 and the backstage green room and dressing rooms were renovated in Summer 2022, which provide artists more creative comfort. None of this would have been possible without the generosity of our donors.
We strive to ensure that The Music Hall is here for future generations. There is always going to be more to do—just ask anyone living in a historic home! From the roof to the brick walls, there are continuous maintenance expenses that need to be covered, and sometimes surprise issues pop up that need an immediate solution. Through our Strategic Planning survey process, you and other patrons shared other great ideas to enhance our venues that we are looking to implement. Thank you! We want everyone in our community, both today and in the future, to be able to comfortably enjoy our performances.
Because of you, our members and donors, we will be able to maintain this historic gem, honoring the past while offering entertainment, education, and inspiration today.
The Infrastructure Campaign
Our facilities play an integral role in our work to enrich the lives of New Hampshire residents of all ages, making continuing maintenance essential. Our recent Infrastructure Campaign addressed critical HVAC systems replacement and building infrastructure repairs, lighting, and artist hospitality to produce savings on energy and labor while leveraging our owned real estate to make our space more functional for staff, artists, and patrons.
We are so grateful for the generous participation of the following donors in this effort to steward our assets, enhance our overall sustainability, and bolster our ability to fulfill our mission.