On April 14, 2006, with church bells ringing, a motorcade led by Hillsborough Police arrived in front of the old firehouse, now home to the Hillsborough Heritage Museum. A small crowd welcomed the arrival of the flatbed truck and its parcel, and then enjoyed a brief ceremony celebrating the return of the two curtains after a 43-year visit to Goshen.
“It was so exciting to see Scott (son of Ennio) Gerini’s flatbed truck roll around the corner with those curtains,” says Gail Johnson. “Planning and fundraising to support paying for the stabilization was important and gratifying, but actually working on them and helping to lovingly restore them so that everyone could enjoy them once again was a once in a lifetime treat.”
Back in 2001, the Hillsborough Historical Society joined forces with the Hillsborough Fireman’s Association to rescue the old firehouse—a beautiful pre-1910 building most recently used to house an auto parts store—to be restored and turned into a home for the society and a museum for local artifacts and firehouse memorabilia.
“All theatre curtains of this nature were designed for stages and performance,” says Chris Hadsel. “Since the whole performance and theatrical tradition has vanished, it’s very nice they can be displayed as part of the Hillsborough Heritage Museum.”
With pride and a sense of real accomplishment, members of the Hillsborough Historical Society, the Theatre Curtains Committee, and Firemen’s Association will finally open the doors of the Hillsborough Historical Museum on Saturday, October 6. The “Twin Bridges” Grand Drape and the “Street Scene” theatre curtains will be a prominent feature of the museum, as they will hang back to back down the center of the main floor.
“The theatre curtains are a living remnant of that era and its past,” says Bea Jillette. “Besides, they are delightful and fun to look at.”
Luckily, more New Hampshire theatre curtains are turning up. Bradford, Charlestown, Deering and Haverhill all have stabilizing efforts underway. Perhaps with Hillsborough’s official unveiling, other communities will come to realize and understand the significance of the treasures rolled up and stashed away under a stage or up in the rafters or attic of their local Granges and Town Halls.
“I’m very happy that people are becoming aware of what they have, paying attention, and not throwing them out,” says Hadsel.