Restoring a Historic Treasure

No one realized it was there, or what a valuable artifact it was. But in July of 2011 a piece of history was found hidden in Deerfield: A stage curtain, created in 1925 in Manchester by Egbert Foster, one of only 2 still known to exist (the other is in Danbury).

The Deerfield Heritage Commission held a Special Meeting on February 20, 2012 at the Town Hall to inspect the stage curtain and surviving scenery (pair of double hinge Woodland flats) which they hoped to restore in conjunction with “Curtains Without Borders”, an organization based in Vermont whose mission is to preserve historic painted theater curtains. In 2008, “Curtains Without Borders” and the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance began a survey to locate and document New Hampshire's collection of historic scenery. Since then, over one hundred pieces have been located. The goal of the project is to raise awareness of New Hampshire's historic scenery and encourage conservation wherever possible. It was as a result of that initiative that the search was made in Deerfield, and the historic curtain and scenery was discovered among items stored back stage on the second floor of the Town Hall.

Anonymous donations totaling $3600 made possible the restoration project as outlined by “Curtains Without Borders” in their proposal of May 28, 2011. Volunteers met in April to tackle the job with the assistance and expertise of artists and conservators from the Vermont organization. The work was completed and the curtain hung. The Heritage Commission thanks all the volunteers who showed up to help with the project. Commission members Hony Hoague, Jim Deely and Nancy Brown (daughter of Deerfield’s preeminent volunteer, Elsie Brown) put in long hours, as did Jeff Horton, Richard Moore, Cindy Tomilson, Suzanne Sears, Lindsey Coombs, and Bob Mann, who made the brackets to support the curtain.

On hand for the grand raising of the curtain were Mrs. Tony DiMauro and her family. She is the artist’s great-granddaughter and a long-time Deerfield resident. Conducting the work were conservator Christine Hadsel and artist MJ Davis from “Curtains without Borders”.

Christine Hadsel will be returning August 1 to give a presentation in honor of the historic curtain.

The historic theater curtain, painted by Egbert Foster in 1929 and discovered in storage behind the stage in the Town Hall in 2011. Restored and rehung in 2012.

Volunteers Jim Deely (Heritage Commission Chair), Cindy Tomilson, Christine Hadsel ("Curtains Without Borders" conservator) and Nancy Brown. Other Deerfield volunteers who put in their time on the project were Lindsey Coombs, Hony Hoague, Jeff Horton, Richard Moore, Bob Mann and Suzanne Sears.

Conservator and artist MJ Davis working on one of the two remaining woodland flats that go with the curtain.

Conservator Christine Hadsel shows Nancy Brown part of the restoration process.

Left to right, Jeff Horton, MJ Davis, Jim Deely, and Hony Hoague work together to hang the curtain while Christine Hadsel looks on.

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