Walton Theatre Preservation Association
The WTPA is organized to ensure the restoration and enhancement of the Walton Theatre building and theatrical equipment. It seeks to preserve the historic nature of the theatre in order to provide a venue for live performances and an active arts center.
The theatre welcomes and encourages live performances, art exhibits, first run and classic and independent films.
Who We Are
The Walton Theatre Preservation Association is a group of volunteers who are dedicated to ensuring the preservation and continuation of Walton Theatre as a cultural and historical icon. In 1984 the theatre was named to the National Register of Historic Places, and on April 21, 1986, some 72 years after its opening, then-mayor Raymond Baldi established the Walton Restoration Committee to oversee the restoring of the theater to its former glory. This committee became what is known today as the Walton Theatre Preservation Association (WTPA).
In 2019 WTPA kicked off its latest project, the restoration of the balcony. Now complete, this project saw the removal of the original wooden seats which were replaced with comfortable seating similar to the main floor seating. One row of the original chairs was reinstalled for historical reminiscing alongside the new comfortable seating and a more diverse choice of seating. Along with the folding seats, we also installed high top chairs and tables and box seating. With the seats removed, the floor was open for repairs and restoration. Our team brought it back to its lustrous hardwood glow, and with this stage of the project completed, we began installation of new high top table and chair seating in the balcony's wings and installation of new theatre seats in the central section. Sound and lighting control boxes were built, housing our state-of-the-art equipment for live shows and feature films.
Our work on the balcony was completed and celebrated with a dedication ceremony on December 16, 2021. During this event we dedicated the balcony to Margaret J. Van Breeman for her contributions to the Walton Theatre. Her generosity will ensure that everyone can enjoy the beautiful and historic Walton Theatre for generations to come.
During this ceremony we also dedicated the meeting hall to Andrea Retz Paternoster (1950-2019), a founding member and chair of the original theatre restoration committee in 1986 and first president of the Walton Theatre Preservation Association. The room was dedicated to Andrea for her love, service and devotion to the Walton Theatre, and shall henceforth be known as the Andrea Paternoster Room.
To support this and future projects, please consider donating to the Walton Theatre Preservation Association. We are grateful for community contributions, and it is only through the community's support that we have some so far. THANK YOU.
Since forming in 1986, the Walton Theatre Preservation Committee has made much progress – some very visible and some not at all. Some of its first efforts were to restore the lobby, which involved stripping years of appalling paint colors; duplicating the Dutch door of the ticket office; stripping up a glued-down cheap carpet to reveal the original tile floor; carpeting the aisles and the foyer and painting most of the woodwork throughout the theatre.
The WTPA has overseen many projects since 1986, including the renovation of the meeting hall above the lobby. This meeting hall is spacious yet intimate, providing a location for Music on the Delaware's in-person Coffeehouse at the Walton Theatre events, meetings for community groups, school field trip discussions, and more. During this strange year we look back fondly at the warmth and good music that has filled the meeting hall, oftentimes brimming over to fill the historical theatre with bustling, chattering folks.
When the foyer was being restored, the “standing room” opening—the space between the foyer and auditorium—were found to contain stained glass. The glass had been boarded over and covered with crushed velvet (how luxurious!) to darken and to provide poster display space. What luck that the windows had not been destroyed or removed, simply hidden behind a wall for so many years.
As part of the restoration, the glass was restored, resealed on the audience side to maintain the darkness and backlit to shine into the foyer creating the ambiance that continues to illuminate today.
After reclaiming the stage in 2002, the WTPA turned its attention to audience seating. A fund drive kicked off the new project, and in 2004, WTPA was fortunate to discover 400 seats from the 1950s which were purchased for $200. After some cleaning up and maintenance, the seats were installed on the main floor, providing comfortable seating for Theatre patrons.
More recently completed large-scale projects include restoration of the walls, installation of house lights, and the restoration and painting of the fire escapes. The Wi-Fi has also been upgraded, catapulting the historic theatre into the 21st Century. We're always looking to the future while preserving the past!
Jim Rice, Chairperson
Gale Sheridan, Vice-Chairperson
Jim Richardson, Treasurer
Vicki O'Brien, Secretary
Nate Jamieson, Non-Voting Village Representative
Interested in becoming a member or volunteering with the WTPA? Contact us through the form below!