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Rebirth of Mirth

For more than a century, Penn’s Mask & Wig Club has been brewing its irreverent brand of musical theater in its Bavarian-style clubhouse. Designed by architect Wilson Eyre, the former stable at 310 S. Quince St. was spectacularly embellished by a local art student named Maxfield Parrish (whose original “Old King Cole,” auctioned off some years ago to raise funds, has been replaced by a high-quality photographic reproduction).

Recently the clubhouse—which is on the National Register of Historic Places—underwent a significant renovation to preserve the building and its artwork, including Parrish’s original proscenium decorations and the caricatures of club members. Led by the architectural firm of Matthew Millan C’87 GAr’91, a former stage manager for the Wiggers, the renovation was almost finished when an electrical fire broke out in March of 2008. Though the fire was confined to the attic, the damage from smoke and water required months of remedial work, plus conservation of painting and plaster. But today the only evidence of the renovation—paid for by Mask & Wig alumni—is “the sparkle of the cleaned and conserved caricatures, the comfort of the nearly invisible mechanical HVAC systems, and the peace of mind from the protection of the fire-sprinkler system,” Millan suggests. And members and guests can once again “share in the laughter and hilarity served up by the mugful in these hallowed halls.” —S.H.

PHOTO BY TOM CRANE

 

 

     
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