AVON – Invisible at the top of Avon’s opera block is a 140-year old space that peers down at Circle Park from the unmistakable tall front windows. Disused for longer than Avon’s oldest residents can remember, Avon Rotary has a proposition that could bring the old stage back into the limelight.
The room, which includes a stage and space for seating, is part of the building’s original 1876 design but was left behind during extensive renovations from 2007 to 2009. Avon Rotary members appeared at the joint Town and Village Board meeting on Aug. 25 to express their interest in finally revealing the secret floor.
“I’ve given tours of the building and the reaction is always very positive as people envision some of the things that could be done up there, like community playhouses and meetings and live music and movies,” said Bob Westfall, President of the Avon Historical Society. “It could be a real service to the Town and the Village. It’s a beautiful space, and a lot of people on the tours say ‘I had no idea this was here.'”
Avon Rotary Treasurer and former Deputy Town Supervisor Kelly Cole offered his services as a project manager at no cost to the Town.
“The idea was that we wanted to start some preliminary work to investigate what the cost would be to the Town of Avon to renovate the upstairs,” said Cole. “Right now, the cost is nothing. […] I think there are some things that volunteers can help with. Skilled volunteers like licensed electricians could put in electrical.”
Cole added that typically expensive renovation work was already done on the building during previous projects.
“When we did the project we took all of the utilities upstairs. The water for the geothermal exchange is all up there, the electric is in the elevator haft, I believe there is sewer is up there and I believe there is water,” said Cole. “I believe we are in pretty good shape to have something done now.”
While estimating a total cost is difficult without knowing what work is to be done, Cole said that he knows just where to go for some data.
“The idea is to go back to the architects who redid this building,” said Cole. “When they finished the opera block project, I was still on the board, and they gave me a quick run-down of what it was going to cost to redo the third floor. In there they had several studies and identified things that were cost negotiable. So that’s what we’d like to do is go to them, have them go to their files and possible walk us through this.”
Back then, the cost of a fourth-floor renovation was estimated at about $700,000. Town Board members said that some details of the project could be scaled down to save money.
Rotary would invite the architects to come out and estimate a cost with no money exchanged and no guarantee that they would get the job.
The Avon Town Board gave their blessing for the investigation.