QUINCY — The walls of the historic Washington Theater in downtown Quincy will be ringing with the sounds of big-band music from a bygone era on Sept. 27, as partygoers attend the 90th anniversary celebration of Hansen-Spear Funeral Home, which has been given a Roaring '20s theme.
“We started talking about this celebration over a year ago,” said Will Spear, who is the fourth generation of his family to own the Hansen-Spear Funeral Home.
Today, Spear and Brian Durante are co-owners of the funeral home that was founded in 1929 by Walter D. and Helene H. Hansen as Hansen Funeral Chapel. The current owners said they quickly decided that the celebration of their business should also serve as a fundraiser to benefit the community.
All money raised from the sale of tickets will be donated to the Friends of Washington Theater, who will use the money to
continue to restore, renovate and maintain the historic theater. In its early days, the theater was a frequent destination for traveling vaudeville acts, various music groups, stage shows and films. The theater closed in September 1982.
“We chose the Washington Theater for two reasons really,” Durante said. “First, the Washington Theater was actually founded in the 1920s, and they are actually in their 90th year right now. So we thought it would be nice to have our celebration in a theater that was actually started in the same decade as our business.”
The second reason is that both Spear and Durante believe a restored Washington Theater will benefit downtown Quincy.
“We love Blues in the District, we love Washington Park, and we think that the Washington Theater will be such a draw for downtown Quincy,” Spear said.
Officials with the Friends of Washington Theater Commission said they were pleased to learn that they would be the recipient of Hansen-Spear's anniversary party/fundraiser.
“Quincy is unlike any town that I know of when it comes to supporting the arts and supporting things like the Washington Theater,” said Brian Heinze, who is chairman of the Friends of Washington Theater Commission. “We're very happy that they selected to have their celebration at the Washington Theater. We are pleased to hear that they are wanting to help raise money for the theater. We're proud to be partnering with them.”
Tickets to the gala are $50 per person and can be purchased at quincywashingtontheater.org/event/roaring-20s-gala/ or by calling the Hansen-Spear Funeral Home at 217-222-4907. Organizers of the annual party hope to sell more than 200 tickets to the gala.
“If we can sell 200 tickets, then that is $10,000 for the theater,” said Spear, who added that he is pleased by how many tickets have already been purchased.
“Picking to have the celebration at the Washington Theater kind of brings it back on people's radar about the work they are doing and how it is progressing from what it was a few years ago,” Durante said.
In addition to music provided by Bullis-Rutter Big Band, the celebration includes a dance floor, hors d'oeuvres, a photo booth, and a cash bar.
Period costumes are available for rent from Quincy Community Theater. To reach the theater, call 217-222-3209.
Attendees are encouraged to wear outfits from the 1920s, but period dress is not required.
“The bottom line is that we've always have had the focus that we live here, we work here, and we want the community to thrive,” Spear said. “We want people to come to this to not just celebrate our anniversary but to help move the theater commission's work forward.”