The Upper Village Hall in historic East Derry has played a prominent role in Derry’s history since 1875. In the 145 years since its official opening – The Upper Village Hall has served as a town hall, a fire station, a grange hall, a veterans’ hall, a library, a Boys club, home for theatrical organizations and the home of the Red Star Twirlers. The East Derry Village Improvement Society (EDVIS) is a group of Derry residents who are committed to supporting Derry’s Upper Village Hall.
This Society is a recognized nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that was founded in 1902 by area residents to preserve and support the local history and culture. Supported by membership and donations, the Society has had a long-standing relationship with the Upper Village Hall as the primary guardian for its care and management.
Heather Lombard and her husband Ernie were asked a year ago if they would “take a peek” at the hall to see if they had interest in becoming members of the Upper Village Hall Board of Directors. Heather remembers that day well, “We fell in love with the building the second we walked in the front door. We both had the same reaction. Wow! …This place is beautiful and has so much potential. We walked around just envisioning all the things that could be done and immediately started creating a “wish list” in our heads. A year later Ernie is now the President of the Board and I am the Upper Village Hall Events Coordinator.” “So many times I have met people at the hall for the first time and they have had that same reaction – Wow! Or I hear – Do you know I have lived here all my life and I have never been in this building and I am so glad I finally did.”
In 2009, a group of dedicated citizens purchased The Upper Village Hall from the Town of Derry for $1 to save it from being razed, and since then, the group – with community assistance – have worked hard to lovingly restore the Upper Hall to its original glory. Thanks to the many local volunteers who have donated services, materials, and hundreds of hours of labor, the Upper Hall has been serving as a community gathering spot for many different functions since that time. Among different events and organization efforts these days, there is a Tae Kwan Do business renting the main hall for classes held multiple times a week and the Hall is also the home for the Derry Wolverine Cheerleaders for their practices as well.
The Upper Village Hall is also rented out for birthday parties, baby showers, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, graduations, Celebration of Life services and Christmas parties as well as other Holiday gatherings.
Lombard says, “Being the Event Coordinator, I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people here in Derry, East Derry and from the surrounding communities. I have received some great feedback and wonderful ideas on ways to keep the space appealing, as well as a most functional rental space.”
Lombard reports that several items on the group’s wish list have been crossed off over the past year. The large foyer area, main hall and bathrooms have all been painted and acoustical panels were installed on the walls of the main hall to fix an echo. The sound of this great room is now significantly improved, and this acoustical treatment has made a tremendous difference for speakers and musical events that take place in the room.
The Upper Village Hall is currently in the process of getting a new fire sprinkler system installed on all three levels of the building that will allow it to cater to larger events that will attract additional revenue. This will also allow the Hall to lease the 3,000 square foot basement for additional functions and activities.
Lombard says, “We are in the process of applying for grants and coming up with fundraising ideas, so we can continue efforts to make the hall what we know it can be. The board welcomes any individuals or groups who may have interest in helping out with the ongoing improvements of the hall. We are always looking for new faces. If you are interested, please reach out to us.”
Some of the next items on the wish list include refinishing the wood floors, to make the main hall look absolutely beautiful. In addition, the group is looking to improve storage areas and to upgrade their kitchen facilities in the Hall. The renovation plan also includes filling the front foyer with pictures and memorabilia from years past, so visitors are able to see and enjoy the history of the building as they first walk in.
Lombard is in the process of updating their website and creating a new Facebook space. The website address is www.uppervillagehall.org
Groups and organizations interested to look at the large basement space or to book an event can reach Heather Lombard at the main number – 434-6723.
Lombard says, “The Hall is a great place to hold your next family reunion, community supper, meeting or social event. Please contact us with questions about The Upper Village Hall and for a quick response, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are excited to continue moving forward!”