Smyrna resident Alice Hill has been a big part in making the Smyrna Opera House the fixture that it is in Smyrna. She's volunteered for nearly 20 years helping to restore and run the facility. Earlier this fall Hill was honored at the Smyrna Opera House's Annual Volunteer & Member Appreciation Night.

Hill was named the Distinguished Honoree of the Year at the appreciation night and a fundraiser was held in her name to raise funds for the opera house. Hill recently sat down with the Sun-Times to talk about why she volunteers and what she loves about the opera house.

Q Why do you volunteer with the Smyrna Opera House?

A I love history. I love old houses and old buildings. Smyrna is just a wonderful place because of the old architecture. People don't realize the treasure trove Smyrna really is and when John Dickinson, who was one of the people that got behind this along with Sherry Hudson, myself, Betty Lou Carrow and Ruth Knotts were the original ones who decided that we wanted to do something that would be significant for this town and that seemed to be the best option. The building desperately needed restoration and it's such a prominent building in town with so much history that we felt that would really be the place. We had no idea how much money it would cost or how we were going to do it; we just knew that we wanted to do it. That's how that got started.

Once we got started, we couldn't let go and kept going. It's just one of those things in your heart. You could just see the potential and we knew what this could be.

Q How did it feel to be honored?

A It was a very humbling experience for me. I truly was surprised and when they came to me and said they wanted to do this and also tack on a fundraiser, I said, 'I don't know how much money you'll raise but I'll be happy to do anything if it'll benefit the opera house.' So it was a really wonderful, lovely night. They really did a wonderful job in honoring not just me but the volunteers, our members. We couldn't function without our members; they contribute their time, their money. It takes a lot of people to keep a place like this going.

Q What's been your favorite memory?

A When we were restoring the building and I was the chairperson of the building committee we would meet to actually restore the lincrusta walls; all the design committee members hand-painted the gold on the lincrusta hallways of the building. I think it's such a showing that everybody really cared, and put their heart and soul into this. One of my favorite moments is when the proscenium was put in. It was just such a fantastic thing just to really have the stage and it was so beautifully done. Rick Schuman he absolutely put it together like a puzzle; it fit perfectly. Opening night when we finally opened the opera house, that was just spectacular when we saw that all the hard work paid off. Everyone did it to make it happen.

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