German Village Gazette

Village notebook

Renovated Fest Hall will expand uses, list of users

Have you seen the new Brent Warner Fest Hall?

The first big opportunity was Sunday, when we welcomed photographer Adi Mizrahi as our first art exhibition of the 2013 season.

The show runs through March 31 -- you should make a point to stop by.

As you've read here, we spent $45,000 to upgrade what was already a gorgeous space.

The German Village Society purchased the building in 1987, but a full-scale update of the space and the stairway that leads to it hasn't been undertaken since.

Because of the gifts left to the Society by Brent Warner and added to by Gene Owen, the Society was able to remodel Brent Warner Fest Hall and other common areas.

So the Board of Trustees' vote last fall to use some of those funds to update our upstairs was in keeping with that fund's use.

The work also comes as a result of bequeathed money we received last year from Gene Owen's estate.

Gene asked that we use his gift to make the Meeting Haus a place that would continue to offer folks a relaxed gathering place, and we are confident that using his funds on this project honors request.

So what did we do?

The men's and women's rooms have been repainted, beautifully lighted, rewired, have new mirrors and new, earth-friendly hand dryers.

New carpet leads you up the stairs, and the walls of the stairway were both painted and three-dimensionalized (we added faux wainscoting for interest).

Also in the hallways, but not done yet, we're repairing the door and replacing the glass over the emergency exit doorway.

Once inside the hall itself, you'll feel like you've stepped into the light!

What used to be a pretty dark room now has lighter finishes everywhere, shiny refinished floors and a silver-tone paint on the ceiling that reflects light instead of absorbing it.

We've beefed up our gallery-style lighting. We repaired the corking and recovered the "self-healing" walls so that when we have exhibit's like Adi's, the walls are very low maintenance.

Perhaps one of the coolest upgrades is what Shawn Woodell created for us under the stage.

That space has always been storage for tables and chairs, but Shawn designed tracks, bumpers and gorgeous new faces to the stage doors so that our constant use of the space doesn't wear down the hardware so fast.

All of this work was expertly scheduled and overseen by Architect/Contractor Brian Collins of bcf Design & Development.

If you've had the pleasure of working with Brian, you know how professional and results-driven he is, and he's just a lot of fun to work with.

He delivered on time and made WAY more out of our budget than you can believe.

Buckeye Hardwood gave a deal to use their artistry and knowledge of historic properties to refinish the floors.

No thank-you list would be complete without including my unending thanks to our Maintenance Committee -- joined for this project by Chris King, whose Manifesto Inc. threw in some design concepts gratis.

Roy Bieber, Jeff Ruff, Mary Connolly-Ross, David Schooler and Ned Merkle were here (at least one of them) pretty much every day, overseeing the work and making the decisions that brought us to Sunday's unveiling.

They have once again done an amazing service for the Society.

Now what?

The whole idea of the remodel was, first and foremost, to spruce things up for all of the ways our members and partner groups use the space.

Second, we knew we wanted to launch our calendar of artists for 2013 and needed to upgrade the lighting and fix the corking.

Finally, we can now proudly offer the building more widely to brides and meeting planners.

Every time someone crosses our threshold to use our space is another chance for us to share our mission -- educating newcomers about historic preservation.

So creating a marketable space allows us to extend our mission beyond our regular users.

That's a trifecta the Board and I are proud of, and we look forward to welcoming you in to see it soon.

German Village Society Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village notebook column.

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