Opened in 1929, Darke Hall – conceived as a ‘Temple to the Arts’ – has always been at the heart of Regina’s cultural scene. Since its opening, Darke Hall had been heavily used by the University and the community. However, despite periodic investment, by 2015 any further use had become completely unsustainable. The mechanical and electrical systems were failing, the roof was leaking, the seats were falling apart, and not a single part of the theatre was accessible. Lighting and sound systems had to be brought in for each performance. The washrooms were completely inadequate and inaccessible. Darke Hall was no longer able to function, even on a minimal basis.
As part of a comprehensive renewal of the College Avenue Campus, Darke Hall has been rehabilitated and triumphantly returned to community use. The renewal project was founded on rigorous Conservation Plans and reviews, based on the Standards & Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, and overseen by Donald Luxton & Associates from inception to completion.
One of the most surprising discoveries was the completely unexpected discovery of the original gold painted and stencilled decoration of Darke Hall, which had been painted over for many years. The extent of the original stencilling was slowly uncovered by careful test stripping and paint removal. Once discovered, its restoration became one of the key features of the public campaign for fundraising. Ultimately, the original 1929 decorative scheme of Darke Hall has been completely restored.