Welcome to the Irvington Town Hall Theater
The Irvington Town Hall Theater was built in 1902 in the Classic Revival Style. Designed by A. J. Manning and patterned after the Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, the Theater is a multipurpose concert hall/music theater located on the entire third floor of Town Hall in downtown Irvington, New York. The 432-seat theater features an orchestra, mezzanine, balcony and six charming gold leafed boxes, a proscenium stage and thrust complete with five backstage dressing rooms. Theater patrons sit in an intimate ambiance. Gleaming white columns and Ionic capitals set off the warm ivory interior. The walls are wainscoted in warm oak. Victorian chandeliers and sconces were copied from the originals, during the restoration to its original elegance in 1980. A plush red stage curtain and a forty-two foot high skylight complete the setting. Architecturally significant, the Theater is listed on the national Register of Historic Places.
With pleasing proportions and marvelous acoustics, the Theater has been touted as “one of the finest municipal halls in eastern New York State” by Alvah French History of Westchester County, “A jewel of a theater on the Hudson” by Robert Sherman New York Times and “Acoustically superb” by Lou Cevetillo Opera Critic Gannett Newspapers.
As the historic building does not have air conditioning, we are closed during the summer months of June-August. However, the theater commission is working to raise funds that will allow for year-round productions to occur in this beautiful space.
Before the turn of the century the Mental and Moral Improvement Society of Irvington, founders of the Village's first public library deeded land to the Village with the proviso that the building to be placed there house a free library and reading room. Also stipulated in the original grant was the requirement that a public hall must be included.
The Theater was completed in 1902 and for her next 60-year reign the "grand dame" was the center of cultural life in the Village, hosting concerts, recitals, balls, cotillions, graduations, and public meetings. Her walls might echo the past with strains of opera singer Lillian Nordica floating effortlessly through the hall or Eleanor Roosevelt giving a campaign speech for Franklin, or resident Ted Mack, auditioning for his Amateur Hour television show.
By 1960, our grand dame was little used. Changes in fire and health codes meant that the Theater was in non-compliance. Fire escapes fell off and the urgent need for additional library space prompted the closing off of the central hallway and staircase leading to the Theater.
For almost 20 years our grand dame was condemned to darkness, except for a historical exhibition in 1972, a dollhouse exhibition in 1978 and The Boy Scouts camping out overnight. With disuse came disrepair. Maintenance was deferred so much that lighting was non-existent except for a few bare bulbs, the skylight leaked and left the Theater open to the elements, the walls were crumbling and coming down and the heat did not work.
In 1978 an interest group made up of Village residents and The Junior League of Westchester-on-Hudson formed to study the possibilities of restoring the Theater and re-equipping it for modern use. A proposal for restoration was presented to the Village Board of Trustees. After several meetings, the Village agreed to contribute $80,000 to the restoration, contingent on the interest group raising $20,000 for no one source to show community support for the project. The non-profit corporation, Irvington Town Hall Theater, Inc. was formed and charged with funding and promotion. With $5,000 seed money from the Jr. League, ITHT, Inc. was able to raise $20,000 by May 1979. In addition the Thursday Club pledged $11,500 for Phase II of the renovation-the redecoration and refurbishment of our grand dame's facelift.
By 1980, our grand dame was ready to re-open with new fire stairwells, plumbing, fire and safety systems, new period lighting, skylight repair and plastering and painted interior so her charm could continue to be enjoyed by all her devoted patrons. The Youth Theater Program was launched by ITHT, Inc. (later changing their name to Clocktower Players, Inc.) and still presenting works today with several other arts partners that call our space home.
The ITHT Commission was established in 1980 by the Village of Irvington to operate and manage the theater. Seven members of the Commission are appointed by the Mayor and Trustees. The annual calendar and capital improvements are the direct responsibility of the Commission, whose long range goals include a new entrance to the theater and the installation of air conditioning to permit year round usage of the theater.
From 1980 to the present the ITHT has been the venue for performances by numerous and diverse artists and performance groups.