In summer 2017, Town Hall Arts Center’s board of directors consulted with Paul Bryant and Callan Meek of local architecture firm Bryant Flink and developed a design Charrette, Vision 2025, as a guideline for future planning decisions for the downtown Littleton venue.
Prior to that time, there was a search for additional space, which the City of Littleton would acquire, so education activities, offices and tech and storage could move and expand, an idea encouraged by former City Manager Michael Penny, who was fired by the City Council’s 4-2 vote in June 2016. Public Works Director Mark Relph was appointed acting city manager first, then hired for the top position in May 2017. He then needed time to get up to speed, of course.
The architects suggested a vision for the Town Hall lobby that would make it a more publicly used space — “Main Street’s Living Room,” it was called. Here small meetings might occur, people could use it as a place to connect with others, to perhaps sit and work on a personal or professional project … perhaps food service could be arranged. Perhaps some redesign of exterior lighting and interaction with Main Street is in order?
We had lunch with Town Hall Executive Director Cheryl McNab to catch up on planning as it looks now. She says she plans to retire soon — probably in December — and move back to “Maryland, family and beaches” with her husband, so a successor will pick up on the future planning. The board of directors expects to find an interim manager while a search goes on for a permanent replacement. McNab thinks an interim manager could/would assist with the search.
Town Hall is in really good shape financially, she said, with some shows selling out and others selling well. Musicals and concerts are what the Town Hall audience says it wants, so the planning committee books accordingly and successfully. In addition, the education program, run by Seth Maisel, is bursting at the seams and could definitely expand if there were more space, she says. Rehearsals are often held elsewhere and storage for props and costumes is rented offsite — at a considerable cost. Ongoing art exhibits are held in the Stanton Gallery, which is also used for events.
In recent months, the city personnel and council have been focused on a ballot question over the fire district. Perhaps after Election Day, Town Hall’s future can again grab attention, McNab hopes. A couple possible expansion locations are being explored, with some assistance from Catamount Construction on estimating costs and design. Firm numbers are needed by the board in order to speak with city council members, McNab says. Town Hall needs another 1,200 to 1,400 square feet (1,400 would allow for a small black box theater to accommodate children’s performances, so they don’t have to be crammed in between musicals—or at odd times on musical sets!).
A sure-to-be-popular musical version of “A Christmas Carol” will be onstage for families and an art show of miniatures will be held in Stanton Gallery, ensuring lots of happy traffic through the old building.
Built in 1920, the Town Hall building was originally designed by Jules Jacques Benoit Benedict, a well-recognized Denver area architect, who had also designed the Carnegie Library (now The Melting Pot), First Presbyterian Church and his own home, now the Carmelite Monastery in Littleton, as well as a number of stylish Denver homes and commercial and educational buildings.
It was used as Littleton’s increasingly crowded civic building until the Littleton Center on Berry Avenue opened in 1977. In 1980, a fundraising campaign raised enough to remodel the interior and change it into a theater for local stage events, opening in March 1983.
Cheryl McNab doesn’t think either she or her husband will truly retire — “There are a number of colleges in the area and we both teach …”
Born in Denver, McNab lived in a number of locations with her family, as her dad was a federal engineer. When in the Washington, D.C./Fairfax, Virginia area, “We discovered Ocean City” in Maryland and beaches generally. She had been a social worker/housing counselor and teacher. She came to Littleton from an arts center in Grand Junction and before that, she had lived elsewhere in the U.S. and taught in England and in Africa (Zambia for eight years).
Although McNab’s upcoming resignation is a loss for Town Hall and Littleton’s Main Street, we will be interested to see where her enthusiastic approach to communities takes her next — and will hope to report to her many fans …
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