When Manchester author, Sarah Cleghorn, went to listen to President William Howard Taft communicate on the Music Corridor in October 1912, she, in addition to others locally, wouldn’t have imagined that will be one of many final occasions to be held on the historic constructing in Manchester Village.
The Music Corridor, situated on Union Road, was commissioned in 1868 by Franklin H. Orvis, proprietor of the Equinox Home, to deliver leisure to his lodge visitors and to Manchester residents. The Italianate Type, three-story constructing with massive, carved wooden paneled doorways impressed all and acquired constructive publicity from newspaper reporters all through Vermont.
In August 1868, the Burlington Free Press acknowledged, “a brand new music corridor has been accomplished at Manchester by F.H. Orvis, proprietor of the Equinox Home, which is alleged to be superior in type and end to something within the State.”
Whereas an article within the Manchester Journal learn, “The corridor is within the second story of the constructing and is probably the best room of the sort within the state. It’s fitted up in wonderful style, is handsomely furnished, and accommodates a big stage, the surroundings, and appointments of which can bear favorable comparability with the phases of extra pretentious halls.”
Franklin H. Orvis needed the Music Corridor to learn his lodge visitors in addition to Manchester residents, typically waiving the $5 an evening constructing rental charge for occasions that benefited the neighborhood. In 1870, when the stable brick First Congregational Church was being changed with the present-day wooden clapboard constructing situated close to the Music Corridor, Orvis allowed the church to carry companies within the corridor freed from cost.
Throughout its heyday, the ornate constructing hosted a variety of actions together with social dances, live shows, theatrical shows, and speeches. These bigger occasions had been held within the second-floor corridor that had a stage and seating for 500 folks.
The primary live performance carried out within the corridor was given by the Mendelssohn Quintet Membership of Boston. The quintet was a extensively recognized chamber ensemble that toured incessantly all through New England presenting early American performances of a number of of Mendelssohn’s works.
All through the late 1800’s, the Music Corridor was energetic year-round with fundraisers and dances. Cotillion events had been widespread round that point and plenty of had been held within the corridor the place ladies would put on bustles and elaborate material with underskirts closely trimmed in pleats and frills and males donned bowties and black tailcoats with mid-thigh tails manufactured from effective wool.
As bigger, extra refined affairs occurred on the second story of the Music Corridor, the primary ground provided a much less formal expertise by offering a billiard room, an consuming saloon run by J.W. Harris that marketed “ready to furnish meals in any respect hours of the day or night” and a four-lane bowling alley.
“There have been no gutters, simply bowling lanes with a skinny strip between every lane,” mentioned Richard Farley, whose father, Thomas Farley, managed the Equinox properties from 1963 to 1972. Farley recalled his pal, Elmer Bull, whose father was head upkeep man for the lodge, telling him he labored within the bowling alley. “He arrange the pins after every body for a nickel.”
By 1912, the identical yr President Taft gave his speech, some residents had been calling the Music Corridor the On line casino as a result of 1909 addition of gaming tables on the primary story. Nonetheless, Sarah Cleghorn was not used to calling the constructing by its new nickname as famous in her writing describing her attendance of President Taft’s speech.
“The journalist was too late in reaching Music Corridor (for we haven’t all discovered but to name it the “On line casino”) to listen to the President’s handle — or somewhat, temporary pleasant greeting to our village; however those that had been current mentioned that the President acquired a most enthusiastic reception from the gang who packed each inch of the corridor,” Cleghorn wrote. “The cheering was lengthy and hearty. The President’s discuss was brief and non-political. He seemed very nicely and cheerful.”
Shortly after President Taft’s speech, the Music Corridor held its final dance hosted by the Ondawa Membership, a fraternal group made up of distinguished members of the neighborhood. In December 1912, Equinox Home administration introduced the corridor can be transformed to extend lodging for lodge visitors and employees. By 1916, the as soon as admired constructing which served as a spot for high-quality leisure had undergone main renovations. The three-story construction was transformed into 4 tales when development staff raised the previous second ground to create an extra ground, thus erasing the as soon as magnificent auditorium and stage. Because the reopening of the Equinox Resort in 1985, every new proprietor had thought-about choices for makes use of of the vacant constructing, Nonetheless, the price of restoring the uncared for construction proved to be an insurmountable impediment.
To protect the reminiscence of the historic constructing in its glory days, an internet useful resource might be created that highlights the historic significance of the Music Corridor. The data might be linked to The Equinox Golf Resort and Spa and the Manchester Historic Society’s web sites.
Whereas the Music Corridor entertained lodge visitors and neighborhood members for over 40 years, the constructing’s destiny was sealed in December 1912 when Equinox Home administration determined to show the stately constructing into lodging for lodge visitors and employees. Now, as Manchester Village watches the demolition of the as soon as ornate Music Corridor, one other step away from the previous is being taken.