Unexpected windfall to benefit Annisquam Village Hall

The Annisquam Village Players raised $17,000 from its recent virtual cabaret, which it donated for work at the historic Annisquam Village Hall. Holding the check are Nancy Martin, left, and Terry Sands. Also pictured are, from left, Steve Harris, John Bishop, Dave Pearce, Paul Hurst, Jim Frick, Mary Flaherty, Kerry McKenna, and Chicki Hollett. 

The Annisquam Village Players are known for "bringing down the house" with their annual summer productions and even their winter benefit cabarets.

The cabaret usually brings in about $2,000 but this winter its virtual cabaret production brought in an unexpected $17,000, which was donated to the fund to repair the roof and for other rehabilitation work at Annisquam Village Hall.

"We were very surprised at the size of the donation by the Annisquam Village Players and we were really excited about getting such a donation," said Stephen Harris, who serves on the board that oversees the hall and two other historic buildings in the village center.

The community theater group, which has roots dating to the Civil War era, has a long history performing at the Village Hall.

"The Players have been carrying on that tradition for all those years," Harris said. "The Village Hall and that campus is the life blood of the village. The hall is used by all kinds of organizations as a meeting place and so much more."

The hall was built circa 1828 as a Baptist church by Eppes Davis. The church lasted about eight years after which the building was purchased by an individual who turned it into a retail center and eating establishment in the village until about 1900, said Harris. Around 1902, a group purchased it and formed a private corporation, the Annisquam Association, for the purpose of rehabilitating the structure. 

"It became much more of a community center around 1915 and that tradition continues until today," Harris said.

That private corporation became an official nonprofit organization in 2015.

Terry Sands, co-director of the Annisquam Village Players, said the response from the recent "Raze the Roof" cabaret was beyond expectation.

"The Village Hall has an amazing history and is the venue for our shows each year, and it needs money for repairs," Sands said.  "The virtual cabaret featured an amazing night of talent and we are really excited about being able to make that kind of donation to the Village Hall. It's the heart of Annisquam and it has great meaning for everyone in the village."

A fundraising letter noted that the "Village Hall has gone through many iterations over the years, including a school, a retail store, a sail loft, a restaurant, a post office, a provision store, a pool hall, and a community meeting hall where weddings, funerals, parties, meetings, and many performances of the Annisquam Dramatic Club and other musical and theatrical groups was held."

More information may be found by visiting annisqumvillage.org. The virtual cabaret may be viewed at https://annisquamvillageplayers.com.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.

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