Old Weathervane Barn Fire by Paul HayesFAREWELL, OLD FRIEND Firefighters from the towns of Whitefield, Littleton, Dalton, Lancaster, Twin Mountain, Dummer, Groveton, and Bethlehem, New Hampshire save the Weathervane Theatre as the original structure is engulfed in flames. Photo: P. HayesOn the night of October 9th, the old Weathervane Theatre, the Red Barn that graced the landscape as you crested the hill from Whitefield since 1858, burned down in a fast-moving fire. With nine fire departments battling the blaze, the heroic fire-fighters were able to save the new Theatre building (built in 2002) from being lost as well. 

In the hours and days following, word spread quickly by phone, e-mail, and Facebook postings. The current Weathervane staff, alumni, Board of Directors, volun- teers, and long-time theatre supporters were all deeply saddened at the loss of a place that held so many dear memories. But something wonderful happened,too. People began to look through their old photographs and post them for others to see. A string of “Do you remember the time when . . .” began to make the rounds among Weathervaners past and present. Jacques Stewart, Taryn Herman, and Joanne Jacaruso threw a Barn Bat party at the Inn—a wake of sorts to celebrate the many joyous, funny, ridiculous, and inspiring moments that took place in the old building and to acknowledge its passing. People came together, in body and spirit, and we were reminded that the Weathervane is not a building but the people who put their talents and pas-sions and hearts into shaing the art of theatre.

For me, the old barn was where I spent my summers from age 16 onwards. As a North Country kid, the Weathervane was where I discovered a world far broader, more diverse, and more exciting than any I had yet dreamed of. I found laughter, acceptance, and encouragement from strangers who became mentors and friends, and even family. Charlie Sachse will forever be sitting in a dusty sunbeam in the old box office, Ginger at his feet and a cigarette in his hand, regaling me with tales from his misspent youth in a gruff voice.

The echoes of “The Riddle Song” from Floyd Collins are in my ears whenever I close my eyes and picture the stage. I remember the panic and elation many a sold-out show towards the end of a season, when we scrambled to find space for one more chair or opened the big doors at the side of the lighting booth so a few more eager audience members could squeeze in and share the magic. I always thrilled to the collective gasp of the audience when a bat, disturbed from his rest, would swoop over the audience or dive bomb the stage. I know that many an actor sang their heart out from the Weathervane stage and dreamed of Broadway. And we were there.

Dreams may burn, but they are not consumed in the fire. They emerge, like the Drummer Boy weathervane himself who was rescued from the rubble, ready for a new life if only we have the courage to raise them up again. The board of directors of the Weathervane Theatre is working diligently to do the repairs needed to be ready for the 2012 season as well as to create a master plan for a capital campaign to begin replacing all that was lost in the fire— we will keep you posted. Please save your pennies so that when their plan is announced, you can contribute to the Weathervane’s renewal and future.

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WVAA, Inc. 
Board of Directors 

President: Rick Farrar 
Vice President: Rien Schlecht
Treasurer: Jeff Zadroga
Secretary: Colin Keating

Brandi Varnell
Michael Sheehan
Catherine Carter
Laura Manos-Hey
Kellee Marsh
Timothy Breese Miller


Weathervane Theatre Alumni 
Association, Inc.,

P.O. Box 69, 
Gardiner, New York 12525.