Parrish Stage Set
Artist Maxfield Parrish was a resident of Plainfield for sixty-eight years and a member of the Cornish Art Colony. In 1916, William Howard Hart commissioned Parrish to design a stage set for the Town Hall. Parrish painted a woodland scene with a lake (or the Connecticut River) and Mount Ascutney, Vermont, in the center. The design was used for the stage back-drop, six wings, and three overhead drapes. The Canvas was made at Indian Head Mills in Nashua, New Hampshire. The stage lighting consists of four overhead banks of colored lights, three banks of footlights,and a dimmer system. The stage lights can create daylight to dusk to twilight and all the degrees in between.
Mr. Richard Stoddard, of New York City, an authority on American theater scenery, states: “The Parrish set has considerable historical importance. Very little actual scenery (as contrasted with scenic designs on paper) has survived from the American theater before 1920, and most of what survives is journeyman work from studios specializing in supplying stock scenery…None of them have the distinction of being based on designs by a famous American artist. The Plainfield set is remarkable, then, not only because so little scenery has survived, but because it was designed and painted under the supervision of a celebrated American artist. In this respect, the Parrish set appears to be unique. The Plainfield set is also notable because it is not a stock scene, but rather a view of a well known Plainfield landmark. The condition and the color of the scenery are also remarkably good, considering its age and the fact that it has been used on and off for more than seventy years.”
In 1991, the Maxfield Parrish Stage Set Committee was formed under the auspices of the Plainfield Historical Society and through their efforts raised the necessary funds to have the stage set cleaned, repaired, and preserved by the Williamstown Regional Art Conservation Laboratory, Inc. of Williamstown, Massachusetts. This work was completed in 1993, and in 1995 the committee was instrumental in getting the town to repair and renovate the town hall. The committee also replaced the old dimmer lighting system and purchased a new curtain for the stage. Since then the a trust fund for the continued care and preservation of the stage set has been established.