Derry's Upper Village Hall restoration a community effort
DERRY — The restoration of Upper Village Hall is almost complete, and the extensive work couldn’t have been done without an outpouring of support from the community, the president of the East Derry Improvement Society said Thursday.
“We will have met all of the obligations to the town,” EDVIS President Paul Dionne said of the multi-year project. “We have had a lot of community activity and sweat equity.”
Constructed in 1875, the building has served many functions within the community. It was home to Nutfield Grange, housed the Taylor Library from 1878 to 1930 and served as the East Derry Fire Station from 1934 to 1979. It also served as the town’s first jail.
Dionne said the walls of the former jail still bear the written musings of some of the prisoners who spent time in the facility.
After serving so many uses for the town through the years, the building began to show its age and deteriorate. The hall faced the possibility of demolition when the East Derry Village Improvement Society intervened in 2009 and took over ownership of the property from the town.
Over the past several years, the hall has been undergoing renovation with the help of many volunteers and donations from the community.
Dionne praised the work of Councilor Brad Benson, whose family lumber business has donated lumber and services to the hall.
“His family in particular has been a big help,” Dionne said. “He has arranged to have a lot of the painting done. It is an extremely generous thing he and his family are doing.”
All of the electrical, plumbing and heating work is complete, according to a report on Upper Village Hall that was distributed at Tuesday Night’s Town Council meeting.
All that remains is the exterior painting, which is scheduled to begin next week, Dionne said. Simpson’s Painting Inc. of Derry will begin painting the front and right exterior wall, the most visible sections, first, Dionne said. The goal is to get all of the painting completed in the fall.
“We are a nonprofit so we can keep improving it,” Dionne said of the organization’s mission. “It’s a community building first and foremost.”