The Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers will host an open house in honor of Mary Elizabeth Hawley’s birthday on Saturday, August 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The public is invited to stop by the Mary Hawley Memorial Room where copies of Miss Hawley’s will and trust documents will be on display along with a “Star of Gifts” painted by Michelle Rosenthal and donated by Mr. and Mrs. Lynn and Ron Buttner of Newtown. The theater will be open so that visitors can see how it has been arranged for safe use and they can also see the new theater lighting completed during the closure as part of a project that had been in the works to support more live shows in the theater.
Now in its 90th year, Edmond Town Hall, one of Miss Hawley’s enduring gifts, continues to serve the community even during this pandemic, when the building serves as the backdrop for the Ingersoll Auto Pop-up Drive-in Theater, which brings the community together to watch movies safely outdoors in or near their cars. Rental spaces, including the theater, gymnasium and banquet hall are also available for rent in accordance with health guidelines.
Miss Hawley had the foresight to plan a building that included a proscenium theater, banquet hall, gymnasium, office spaces and other gathering spaces that, along with a modest annual disbursement from a dedicated trust fund, have made it possible to generate most, though not all, of the revenue needed to operate the building. These spaces were in addition to the spaces provided for government services such as town clerk, probate, and others.
Through its 90-year history the building has changed and adapted based on the needs of the community. Some previous uses include space for a post office, a bowling alley, a town nurse, a courthouse, and the seat of town government, housing the selectman’s office until 2009, when the town established the Newtown Municipal Center at the former Fairfield Hills Hospital.
Today Edmond Town Hall serves as an event venue and theater for movies and live performances and provides elegant and useful spaces for day renters and tenants. Its mission is to enrich the community by providing a place for generations of residents and neighbors to make memories by gathering to celebrate and enjoy arts, social, civic, sports, entertainment and milestone events and activities.
Although owned by the town of Newtown, Edmond Town Hall is managed by a bi-partisan volunteer Board of Managers composed of six members serving six-year terms. At each regular town election, two members are elected, both of whom must not be from the same political party. According to the Town Charter, the Board “shall have exclusive care and maintenance of Edmond Town Hall and all grounds and buildings appurtenant thereto, and shall have the status, powers and duties set forth in Special Act No. 98 of the 1931 session of the General Assembly as amended by Special Act No. 517 of the 1953 session of the General Assembly, which acts shall remain in full force and effect, except to the extent superseded or revised by this Charter.”
“Every year on her birthday, we take the opportunity to remind the community of Miss Hawley’s generosity and how much it continues to give to our residents and neighbors,” said Jennifer Chaudhary, Chairman of the Board of Managers, the group of electors that oversees the building and staff. “Even during this trying time, Edmond Town Hall continues to operate through its drive-in movies and indoor rental spaces to serve the needs of the community.”