Downtown Theatre Upgrades Near Completion

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Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 4.14.58 PMBy Terry Rogers

After discovering major structural problems with their building, Milford Second Street Players are nearing the end of extensive renovations to their building, located at 2 South Walnut Street in historic downtown Milford. The building, which was built around 1890, has been the home of the volunteer theater group for many years.

The building, which appears on the National Register of Historic Places as “H.W. Burkett Store, has been several different businesses over the years, including a hardware store. At one time, the building was two stories with a storefront on the first floor, but the second floor has since been removed.

“Since beginning the project, we have reinforced the foundation, rebuilt the piers, raised the floor joists under the building, renovated and constructed backstage bathrooms, upgraded the HVAC system, painted and patched,” said Tracy Dissinger, President of the group. “The problems came to light when we decided to upgrade the backstage bathrooms. We knew the building had a ‘tilt,’ but had no idea how bad it was until we began the bathroom remodel.”

According to Ms. Dissinger, the contractor hired to correct the problems found five piers on the corner of the building near the river were damaged, and that he was able to put his hand through some of them. A structural engineer visited the location and informed the group that they needed to do major repairs to the building.

“The building was literally sinking into the river,” said Ms. Dissinger. “The engineer told us that the building was not in immediate danger and that it was not so bad that it was unsafe for us to be here, we needed to make these corrections as soon as possible.” The theater group began a massive fundraising campaign in an effort to obtain the money to make the necessary upgrades on the building, and were able access grants and donations to offset the costs.

“Of course, once the joists were raised, there were drywall cracks and other damage that then needed to be patched, sanded and painted,” Ms. Dissinger said. “That is where we are now, at the sanding and painting stage. Our next show opens Friday night, so we are working hard to get the building where it needs to be for the opening.” Second Street Players will present “Witness for the Prosecution,” an Agatha Christie mystery.

Ms. Dissinger says that the group has decided to leave the walls of the lobby bare for the performance and get input from the public on the artwork to be displayed during each show. She says that they are considering a changing art gallery option to promote the talented artists in Milford.

“We have so much talent here in Milford,” Ms. Dissinger explained. “I think it would be great to do a rotating show, so to speak, so that when people come to see a play, they could see the talented artwork created by those in the town. We would love to hear what the public thinks would be nice to see in the lobby of the building.”

Tickets for “Witness for the Prosecution” are available online at the Second Street Players website as shows are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, February 7 and 14 at 8 pm, and on Sunday, February 8 and 16 at 3 pm. For more information, individuals can call 302-422-0220.