Town Hall 1873 Self-Guided Tour: AUDITORIUM
Welcome to The Theatre Auditorium:
- The upper level of the building is where most activity has taken place in the hall’s history of 150 years.
- The auditorium is the heart of Town Hall 1873.
- Transformation into a Theatre, 1975:
- The balcony and auditorium floor were left in their original state.
- A more adaptable stage was built at the south end where it is today.
- A side entrance on the east side had access to the ground floor by the dressing room.
- There was also a fire escape on the west side of the building that was used occasionally as a theatrical entrance.
- The Theatre was also used for special fundraising dinner/dances as the floor was unaltered.
- Different Level seating was eventually installed as the upstairs began to be primarily used for Theatre events.
Events that have taken place in the auditorium since 1873:
- Council meetings & Court proceedings.
- Court sessions were held here in the auditorium and were as formal as possible.
- During early days while court was in session, one affable local fellow (and maybe somewhat of a regular to the court) was nicknamed “Hello Ed”. While led into court, he is said to have hailed the Judge, Magistrate Purdy (“Ed Purdy”) with big smiles and a hearty “Hello Ed!”, helping to break up the serious mood of the court proceedings.
- Fundraising events, plays, musicals and dances.
- Before the 1900’s, the auditorium was used for roller skating! The wooden floor was built with ends in a fan shape for this purpose, visible at the entrance to the theatre.
- Canadian Military/Infantry training was conducted here in 1913.
- Moving picture shows (movies) were shown here twice weekly in the 1930’s, a time when movies became more popular than live performances.
- The space was used as a gym for Port Perry High School as the original school didn’t have one. As such, this space was also used by the school for dances, performances & events.
- Used as a temporary school in 1925 after fire destroyed the old school.
- Publicly attended dramatic and musical events, travelling minstrel shows & poet readings, card and whist playing, masked balls, fundraisers & meetings.
- Frequent & popular entertainers who performed here in the past include: Pauline Johnson (Poetess), Guy Brother (Minstrel Performer), Miss Drake (Actor), Swiss Bell Ringers
**Please visit the metal sculpture on the outside east wall of the building (Simcoe Street). This original art piece was erected in loving memory of Richard Drew, past Chairman of Town Hall 1873. Sculpted by well know metal artist Geordie Lishman, the sculpture depicts the many uses of Town Hall 1873 through the years. **
A Time of lack of interest in Town Hall 1873:
- In 1926 a new combined Public and High School were built on Rosa Street after a fire burnt the previous school, the new school had a proper theatre on the 3rd floor, therefore Town Hall 1873 was no longer needed for school productions and activities.
- In 1946, Lakeview Theatre opened on Queen St. which ended Town Hall 1873’s moving picture business.
- The last use of the Hall before it became a Theatre was in the period of 1951 to 1970’s when Canadian W. Gossard Co, used the hall for the manufacturing of women’s undergarments. Originally an American company, H.W. Gossard became British-owned in the 30’s and is still producing ladies’ undergarments today.
- During the restoration of the building in 1974-1975, many sewing notions, bra hooks and straight pins were painstakingly removed from between the floorboards in what is now our Theatre auditorium.