Holley Hall renovations on public view

BRISTOL — The newly renovated Holley Hall will open its doors to the public from 3 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, to celebrate Bristol residents’ contributions to its new look.
The town offices will host tours, presentations and the unveiling of both the historic painted curtain and a time capsule.
“We wanted to show off the new renovations and give the public the opportunity to come in and see how their taxpayer dollars were spent,” said Carol Wells, a member of the selectboard and executive director of the Bristol Downtown Community Partnership.
“Hopefully they’ll think we spent them wisely.”
Self-guided tours will take place throughout the afternoon and early evening. Handouts, fact sheets and floor plans will be provided to guide visitors through the changes to the historic town building.
“The fact sheet will tell people what was repaired, renovated, replaced and what updates were done to increase energy efficiency,” Wells said.
Last December voters OK’d a proposal for the town to borrow up to $750,000 to make the building more handicap accessible, fix structural and wiring problems, add insulation and reorganize the basement town offices.
Starting at 6 p.m., Town Manager Bill Bryant will emcee a series of presentations including the unveiling of a historic theater curtain that was restored through the Vermont Painted Theatre Curtain Project. Chris Hadsel, one of the painted curtain gurus, asked the town of Bristol if they would be interested in an orphan curtain that just happened to be the right shape and size for the Holley Hall stage.
“The curtain wasn’t originally in Bristol,” Wells said. “This was a lost curtain that didn’t have a home and ours had disappeared. It fit perfectly, so they asked if we wanted it, and we said we did.”
The curtain depicts the famous chariot scene from the novel “Ben-Hur.”
“We want to play a little snippet of the chariot race from one of the movies,” Wells said. “We’re still debating between the silent version and the 1959 (Charlton Heston) version.”
Following the unveiling, Gerald Heffernan and others from the Bristol Historical Society will present a new time capsule that will be buried on Holley Hall property in the spring. The capsule is set to be opened in 2062, the 200th anniversary of the downtown building.
Despite the timing and the festivities, Wells said that the opening will not necessarily be holiday themed.
“It will be decorated as it is ever year for the holidays, but it’s really not holiday themed,” she said. “We also wanted do it before the weather got too bad and before people got too busy with the holidays. We thought it was a good opportunity to let everybody come take a look.”
Tamara Hilmes is at [email protected]

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