Winchester Little Theater completes first phase of restorations

Vonderene Swigart, Winchester Little Theater board of director's development chair, left, and Marjorie Lewis, honorary chair of restoration, right, take a look at one of the new dressing rooms. Kaley Toy/Daily

WINCHESTER – The Winchester Little Theater held a restoration celebration on Sunday to recognize the completion of the first phase of renovations.

Majorie Lewis, honorary chair of restoration, said, “It’s a very exciting day for the theater.”

Vonderene Swigart, board of director’s development chair, said the community has been very supportive of what the theater is trying to become. Supporters include the city of Winchester, the Winchester Rotary Club and the many patrons and donors who helped with the fundraising efforts.

“The community is supporting this,” she said. “Overall it’s been a wonderful reaction.”

The restoration fundraising goal is $650,00. So far a little over $500,000 has been raised.

Bill Westgard, chair of the house and grounds committee, said the process of restorations on the building, formerly the old Pennsylvania Railroad freight station at 315 W Boscawen St. , began seven years ago, with architectural work beginning last fall.

Swigart added that the completed Phase I included restoring the structural integrity of the building, the bricks and the mortar, she said. The project has already progressed to Phase II, which includes a restoration of the dressing rooms and the upstairs office, electrical work, and replacing the decks with handicap access.

“There’s much more to come,” she added.

Westgard said the theater is putting on shows in its 97-seat theater. They also do benefit shows that allow organizations to rent out the theater and charge residents to attend to raise money for various fundraisers.

He added that restorations completed in Phase I included a newly renovated back room for the actors, new rafters, an added third floor that holds the HVAC systems and overflow storage, and new flooring.

Many parts of the building have been around since 1889, he said, requiring a lot of work on the internal structure of the building.

A box car was also acquired that sits on real tracks, he said. It still needs be sanded down and painted with logos.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or