By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Grafton – The nonprofit organization Apple Tree Arts held a reception Jan. 28 at the Fisher Mansion, JCSI/BESTEXEC, 2 South St., to highlight the latest updates on the renovation of the Grafton Town House into a community performance arts center.
The Town House, of which Apple Tree Arts is the primary tenant, located at One Grafton Common, is undergoing an extensive $4.5 million renovation which will make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well update the utilities and fire protection. The creation of offices, classes and practice rooms, and the preliminary work on a performance center for the arts, is all on schedule to be completed by April.
Over the past few years, a combination of Community Preservation Act (CPA) and town reserves, as well as monies raised by Apple Tree Arts, have been used to replace the roof, preserve three fire escapes, and complete the first step of making the building, built in the early 1850s, accessible. Apple Tree Arts has also started a $2 million fundraising campaign to secure grants from residents, businesses and private foundations to complete the work on the second and third floors.
The project’s architect, Neil Dixon of Dixon Salo Architects, Inc., of Worcester and Paul Scarlett, the organization’s president of the board of directors, both gave updates at the Jan. 28 reception. Architectural drawings and boards featuring samples of the actual materials such as paint, fabric and floors were displayed on boards for guests to view. Attendees were also invited to cross over the common to the Town House to take guided tours with Andy Deschenes, the owners’ project manager.
Founded in 1989 by Executive Director Donna Blanchard, Apple Tree Arts is a community school for the arts serving people of all ages throughout south central Worcester County. It offers private instrumental and voice instruction, theatre arts programs, student instrumental concerts, summer programs, faculty concerts and a community concert series. It also offers programs at area schools, preschools and daycare centers.
The concept of a having not only a permanent home to teach as well as offer a performing art center in a beautiful and historic building was thrilling, Blanchard said.
“This is beyond my wildest dreams. I had always wanted to create a sustainable program. With this new center, we are leaving something for future generations to enjoy as well,” she said.
For more information on the renovation project, visit www.communityadvocate.com/2015/11/24/grafton-town-house-renovations-will-benefit-community/. For more information on Apple Tree Arts, visit www.appletreearts.org.