Nov 1, 2013
03:13 PM

Connecticut Musical Theater Group Has Unique (Kitchen Tour) Recipe for Raising Funds

Connecticut Musical Theater Group Has Unique (Kitchen Tour) Recipe for Raising Funds

A kitchen in a Cornwall barn residence on the tour from the website for the event.

For the Nicholas family, four months of kitchen renovations are culminating this Saturday, Nov. 2, when they will open their doors to the public as part of the 11th annual Kitchen Tour to benefit the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society, based at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, serving six Northwest Connecticut towns. Tickets may be purchased on the day of the event (see bottom for details).

Nell and Robert Nicholas set out to update the kitchen in their historic Cornwall home, which dates back to 1912, early this summer. According to Mrs. Nicholas, the kitchen hadn’t been touched since the 1950s. The kitchen lacked natural sunlight and was filled with Formica and linoleum. A wood-burning stove jutted out into the room, decreasing the walkable footprint and making cabinet space impossible.

During the several months of renovations, the family moved their entire kitchen out onto their expansive closed in porch. They placed a two-burner stove and a microwave on the porch and ate all of their meals at a large outdoor table. Mrs. Nicholas said they were lucky they decided to remodel during the summer instead of winter so they didn’t freeze on the porch.

After rearranging the layout of the space, knocking out a pantry in favor of a mud room and relocating a basement door, an open kitchen emerged. The Nicholases put in large windows over their new sink to let in a lot of light. The wood-burning stove was removed in favor of more counter and cabinet space. A large farmer’s table flanked by chairs and two royal blue benches center the room. New countertops and appliances and a coat of paint in a serene pale blue finish the look.

“I love it,” Mrs. Nicholas said of her completely transformed kitchen.

Theirs will be one of six kitchens in Kent and Cornwall open to the public Nov. 2 as part of the kitchen tour. On the day, the homes will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for people to wander around in–getting an insider’s look at the way their neighbors live.

Another property to be included in the tour is the beautifully restored barn of Diane Meier and her husband, Irish novelist Frank Delaney. The home was built in 1830 as a farmhouse for the dairy farm that occupied the property and the surrounding fields, Ms. Meier explained in a description she wrote about her property. She purchased the home in 1998. Her husband moved in 2001, and they poured the foundation for the barn in 2002, the same year they were married.

“Our property is called DogWood Farm, not because of the trees, but because I originally bought the house as a place to throw a stick to my German shorthaired pointer. Dog – Wood,” Ms. Meier wrote.

The barn houses a large space for public events, Mr. Delaney’s archives and writing studio, and a loft where Ms. Meier works and paints.  

“Everything on the floor, with the exception of the kitchen island is mobile,” Ms. Meier wrote. “The island, the counters and the huge dining table were all crafted from a cherry tree that had to be removed to make way for the barn. We had the wood milled and dried and returned to the site as furniture.”

Two stoves, two dishwashers and a two-sided sink fill the space making clean up easy when they host large events or parties. A lengthy table is perfect to seat a large dinner party and colorful pottery fills the shelves.

“With the exception of appliances, relatively little in the barn was bought for it, but rather the barn was built to house the many things we brought to our life together; from armoires to plate racks to collections of pigs to platters,” said Ms. Meier.

The couple uses the barn as, “the public part of our lives.” They host friends, work, charity and benefit parties in the barn.

The tour flier described the other homes as “an Early Modern House finished in 1939 for Pulitzer Prize-winner Hatchert Hughes, recently restored by the present owners to its original splendor,” “a restored barn with two storybook cottages,” and, “a center hall colonial that is a complete renovation featuring a large center kitchen island, a bar area and a traditional dining room.”

The kitchen tour was founded 11 years ago as a way to raise money for the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society. This year the proceeds will support their production of “Hello, Dolly!” The show will take place from March 13 through 15 at the Housatonic high school.

Mrs. Nicholas said she decided to take part in the kitchen tour because she “loves Housatonic.” While her children don’t attend the high school or take part in the musical theater program, she said her family has gone to many of the shows.

“I felt happy to contribute,” said Mrs. Nicholas.

Tour organizer Colleen McGuire said the theater company is a worthy beneficiary because, “It raises the children’s self-esteem to be part of a professional theater production.”

“It feels even better to be in the community and to contribute,” said Ms. McGuire, who has organized the event for the past four years.

She said she finds people to participate by putting her feelers out. She goes to parties and meets people to find willing participants.

“It is getting harder every year because of the economy,” said Ms. McGuire.

In the past, nine kitchens have been included on the tour but that number has been cut down to six because it was becoming hard to find participants and visitors were having difficulty making it to all of the kitchens within the allotted time.

In previous years the tour has included kitchens in Salisbury and Lakeville, but this year it will be focused in Cornwall and Kent. Ms. McGuire said she didn’t intentionally choose houses in the new area; it just worked out that way.

She said she’s happy with the selection of kitchens on the tour this year. The variety ensures there will be something for every tour goer to admire.

“People really love it,” said Ms. McGuire. “People can get together that time of year and I think people like to see the way other people live. There’s a bit of voyeurism involved.”

In addition to the tour, participants will get to sample food from local caterers and restaurants. A raffle will feature great prizes including art prints, wine and a table cloth.

The tour is being sponsored by Belter Builders, Best & Cavallaro Real Estate, Davis IGA, Elyse Harney Real Estate, Herrington’s, William Perotti & Sons, Lovell Orthodontics, Pierce K. Kearney Design & Build, Salisbury Bank, Sharon Hospital and Torrington Savings Bank.

Tickets will be available on the day of the event for $40 at each house and at the pharmacies. The tour will take place on Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information on the tour, see the website.

Connecticut Musical Theater Group Has Unique (Kitchen Tour) Recipe for Raising Funds

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