Raffle - Ernest Haas Painting of the "Little Nellie"
To Raise Funds for a Sprinkler System
We are excited to announce a raffle to win a piece of history and an original Ernest Haas oil painting, all in one. Proceeds will support the installation of a sprinkler system in the historic structure.
Using the seat-back from an original 1897 Opera House theater chair as his canvas, renowned Vermont artist Ernest Haas depicts “Little Nellie”, one of the steamboats piloted out of the Vergennes Falls basin by Philomene Daniels, the first female steamboat captain licensed in the United States.
Haas is probably best known for portraying historical maritime events on Lake Champlain and for capturing the quality of light and sky. The painting will appear in a number of downtown Vergennes store windows between now and December 19, and it can also be viewed online.
Tickets are $25 and only 150 will be sold. They are available now through October 2nd at Classic Stitching on Main Street in Vergennes and at the Opera House. The drawing will take place on October 3rd during the annual Vermont Ladies’ Rally, another fundraising event for the Opera House. The winner does not need to be present.
The Vergennes Opera House was built in 1897 during the height of Philomene Daniels’s steamboat operation from 1877 through 1908. Although it is impossible to tell, Daniels herself may have attended performances there and even used the very seat back that now depicts her “Little Nellie.” This chair, and nearly 400 others, were removed during the restoration to accommodate multiple uses for the floor space.
Changes in Vermont Fire Safety Code now require sprinkler systems in venues such as the Opera House if they wish to continue using the space to its fullest capacity. The Friends of the Vergennes Opera House, the non-profit organization that restored the Opera House and now maintains and operates the historic 300-seat performing arts space, has always planned on installing the sprinkler system to protect its patrons and its nearly $2 million investment, but the recent code changes moved the project to the top of the priority list.
Installation, estimated at between $65,000 and $75,000, will begin in the spring of 2010, and fundraising efforts are well underway. The Friends of the Vergennes Opera House has received a $35,000 tax credit through the Vermont Downtown Program and is pursuing several other grants.
For more information, please call 877-6737.