Faculty, staff and supporters of , the nonprofit community arts school, gathered Saturday night at the home of former selectman Craig Dauphinais and his wife, Carol, for a launch party to kick off the public phase of a capital campaign to restore portions of the Old Grafton Town House at 1 Grafton Common.
The plan is to restore the second and third floor of the historic building, according to Dana Wilson, who works in public relations and marketing. The school announced Saturday that it received private donations of $148,000 in the last three weeks. More than $1.6 million has been raised for the project since the fall of 2008, according to Wilson.
The project received a $250,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund in November and is working with the Massachusetts Historical Commission “so that the historic part of the building is kept in mind at every level” of the project, Donna Blanchard, executive director of Apple Tree Arts, said at Saturday night’s event.
The building will be 150 years old next year, according to Wilson, and the second and third floors will be transformed into a performance arts center with an auditorium, classrooms, and studios. Apple Tree Arts is currently in the building.
“The project is really bringing the whole town together,” said Paul A. Scarlett, president of Apple Tree Arts' board of directors and clerk of the Grafton Town House Oversight Committee, adding that the project will bring an iconic piece of town history from deteriorating to invigorated. “We’re creating a true asset to the town.”
The “Great Hall” in the building can hold 150 people, including the balcony, and 100 without the balcony, Scarlett said. It could be used for public meetings as well as private events, he said.
“It’s gorgeous,” Scarlett said of the hall. “It’s just sitting there empty.”
Scarlett said the hope is that the project will be completed sometime in 2015 or 2016. Some work, including the roof and improving the building’s accessibility, has already been done.
Anyone wishing to donate to the project may do so by calling, stopping by, or clicking here.