Regency subdivision was built in two phases.The second after the Feds reduced interest on mortgages to stimulate the home building industry and ipso facto, the national economy.
In the second phase. Sterling Drug was already up and running. The east a end of Henderson Drive at Yonge Street ,was intended industrial development. The small building that houses Aurora Theatre was constructed but unloccupied.
I was Mayor when the land and a farm changed hands and became the town house development ,
a shopping centre and Henderson Drive was opened to Yonge Street.
Dodie Herskovitz didn't build anything. But she acquired several properties in Aurora and they were developed.no doubt to financial advantage.
The factory building and site were not part of the subdivision agreement.
Taxes were owing. $5,000. was a figure I heard mentioned.
Theatre Aurora was a going concern .St. Andrew's College made their auditorium available for shows and rehearsals. Sets were built in individual basements and put together on stage the week of the performance.
Labour was intensive but not more than the enthusiasm of the creators and their audiences.
Every play and musical and Doyly Carte opera was well received by appreciative audiences.
TIm and Jean Baker Pearce made their home available for every need but the cast parties at the end of the run were memorable occasions. Especially after a musical.
TIm and Jean owned a little frame house at the top of the hill on Temperance Street. They added a great room. HIgh ceiling, field stone fireplace to the roof and flagstone floor. The rafters rang and floor trembled in hearty rendition of every song and dance, like they never wanted to let the excitement fade.
Actors are like that when deprived of opportunity.
I never heard anyone give voice to a dream that they might one day have their own theatre.
RIchmond Hill had the Curtain Club but the Aurora group never spoke of the possibility.
Dodie Herskovitz changed that. She gave the little factory to the town for use as a theatre along
with two hundred a fifty seats.
Theatre props had been stored in the building awhile. She was aware of the need.
It was hard to imagine a theatre rising from the wreckage.Last use of the building was a factory for concrete forming.
The front fifteen feet was designed for office space. The rest dropped into a well filled with broken forms and mis-shapen casts. Every window was broken. BIrds had taken over the space,swooping and diving like creatures from another place. Huddled in a small space cleared for the purpose,Theatre Aurora's shabby little bundle of props.
There never was any argument about accepting the offer. Bud Rogers, the town's Clerk-administrator, lived in the town. HIs wife Judy was an accomplished singer and frequently performed.
A Provincial Grant was available. To meet a timeline, plans had to be drawn up over a week-end.
TIm Baker-Pearce, Harry Shaw, Barb McGowan's husband and brother and others put the plans together and by Monday morning an application was filed and $21,000 was granted in short order.
It wasn't much but everyone who had any skills and others who could just lift and lay ,the job was completed and a skeleton of a theatre came to be.
There was a stage, dressing rooms, lighting booth, chairs on a flat cement floor,windows were re-glazed, washrooms with plywood doors installed. Norm Weller. the town's solitary parks keeper, always available wherever he was needed, landscaped the front of the building and cleaned up the sides .
There were no lights, stage curtains,sound system , no backdrops. no tiered theatre seating and the washrooms are still freezing.
The first play was Charlie's Aunt. Excitement was high
The theatre has changed since.
Auditorium space has shrunk in from the sides.Tiered comfortable seating is in place along with all the accoutrements of theatre. Curtains, flys, lighting ,sound all huge financial investments.
Every year, a full season of theatre is provided.
Plays are entered into competition. Awards of Excellence regularly earned.
Children's Summer Theatre with opportunity for junior thespians is provided.
Real theatre has been created in every sense of the word.
All funded from earnings from hundreds of thousands hours from generations of the unpaid, passionate Aurora theatre crowd.
Now the town wants to take it from them.
A new lease is proposed that would return to the days when they had to depend on limited time availability of St Andrew's College.
For ten years, Aurora Culture Centre has enjoyed free use of a building that cost millions to renovate, for one dollar a year rent. All maintenance is provided by the town,plus $400,000 of funding, rising
For two years Petch House has sat empty with no use assigned.
The Aurora Men's Soccer Club has a high visibility real estate parcel for $1 a year rent. THey compete with tax-paying catering business in town .
A reques to lease a building for million dollar commercially operated sports organizations is being considered.
Aurora Council has informed Theatre Aurora the facility they created, solely through their own labour, is no longer theirs to meet the needs of full-time theatre operated completely by volunteers. They take from no-one, they contribute to the community
They are the targets of a dastardly betrayal of trust.