It has endured a very long history of disuse and absence but a theatre curtain originally designed to hang in Ludlow, VT finally found its way home. Through the help of the Vermont Painted Theater Curtains Project, the curtain was brought to Black River Academy Museum for needed restoration work prior to being hung on BRAM’s third floor.
According to Chris Hadsel, Curtain Project Director, the curtain was painted by William Stuart in Brattleboro in 1918, more than ninety years ago. It depicted the Odd Fellows Home on Gill Terrace in Ludlow, the painted curtain measuring about 10 by 20 feet. The curtain was believed to have been hung in a Ludlow location, possibly either the Odd Fellow building on Main Street or the Gill Terrace home. Hadsel, whose group has been recovering and restoring painted theater curtains throughout the state, estimates that the curtain probably has been in various forms of storage for up to fifty years before her group recovered it in Brattleboro.
During the course of restoring a 91 year old theatre curtain originally commissioned for Ludlow, the Black River Academy Museum discovered an unexpected piece of entertainment history, a newspaper ad for the 1931 movie, “Dirigible”. The ad was apparently used as backing for the 20 ft by 12 ft curtain that BRAM is in the processing of restoring. Even more interesting is the fact that Dirigible starred Fay Wray, the actress famous for her role in the original “King Kong” movie of 1933.