Laconia, NH – Preparations for Colonial Theatre renovation proceeding smoothly

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on May 25, 2016 at 2:29 pm

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From The Citizen: It may not look like much is going on from the outside, but preparation work to restore the Colonial Theatre has been proceeding smoothly for the past several months.

Justin Slattery, the executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council, spoke before a gathering of about 75 at the Taylor Community on Tuesday, and told the group he’s been very pleased with efforts made so far to get the facility ready for a major renovation next year.

“It really is a jewel for the city,” Slattery said. “This building’s historic significance is incredible.”

Slattery showed slides of work performed this spring to remove steel partitioning put in during the 1980s to turn the Colonial into a multi-plex movie house.

“They were very careful to cut those steel beams into small pieces so they could be removed safely without damaging any of the artwork inside the theater,” Slattery said.

He described for the audience his amazement when he saw some of the artwork inside the building once the partitioning was removed.

“I can’t believe how good a shape the pictures and art is in,” Slattery said. “It’s especially true when this has been sitting there for many years.”

The building’s roof is in good shape, and plans will soon be worked on about how to best renovate apartments above the theater.

“We’re looking at turning them into condos or apartments for young professionals that want to be downtown,” Slattery said.

The three buildings that comprise the renovation project amount to about 38,000 square feet, with the theater taking up 20,000 square feet of space.

Built in 1914 and hailed for its distinct fresco architecture and unique design qualities, the Colonial Theatre was once at the forefront of 20th century culture in Laconia, hosting traveling vaudeville shows and special events, such as the world premiere of the film “Return to Peyton Place” in 1961.

2016-05-25 / Front Page

Print article Print Preparations for Colonial Theatre renovation proceeding smoothly View full-size JUSTIN SLATTERY, executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council, told a gathering at the Taylor Community on Tuesday that efforts to prepare the Colonial Theatre for restoration are going smoothly and have revealed that artwork in the facility is in good shape. (ED PIERCE/CITIZEN) Elaborate artwork inside 102-year-old facility in good shape By ED PIERCE LACONIA — It may not look like much is going on from the outside, but preparation work to restore the Colonial Theatre has been proceeding smoothly for the past several months.

Justin Slattery, the executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council, spoke before a gathering of about 75 at the Taylor Community on Tuesday, and told the group he’s been very pleased with efforts made so far to get the facility ready for a major renovation next year.

“It really is a jewel for the city,” Slattery said. “This building’s historic significance is incredible.”

Slattery showed slides of work performed this spring to remove steel partitioning put in during the 1980s to turn the Colonial into a multi-plex movie house.

“They were very careful to cut those steel beams into small pieces so they could be removed safely without damaging any of the artwork inside the theater,” Slattery said.

He described for the audience his amazement when he saw some of the artwork inside the building once the partitioning was removed.

“I can’t believe how good a shape the pictures and art is in,” Slattery said. “It’s especially true when this has been sitting there for many years.”

The building’s roof is in good shape, and plans will soon be worked on about how to best renovate apartments above the theater.

“We’re looking at turning them into condos or apartments for young professionals that want to be downtown,” Slattery said.

The three buildings that comprise the renovation project amount to about 38,000 square feet, with the theater taking up 20,000 square feet of space.

Built in 1914 and hailed for its distinct fresco architecture and unique design qualities, the Colonial Theatre was once at the forefront of 20th century culture in Laconia, hosting traveling vaudeville shows and special events, such as the world premiere of the film “Return to Peyton Place” in 1961.

It was retrofitted during the 1980s to house five movie screens, but has been vacant since 2003 after a New Durham couple operated it for a week during Motorcycle Week as a movie complex.

The Laconia City Council partnered with the BEDC to help the organzation acquire the property in June 2015 by providing an interest-only loan of $1.4 million to the BEDC for the theater’s purchase.

Councilors also agreed to give another interest-only loan to the BEDC of between $2 to $3 million to facilitate closing on restoration and renovation work to the property. The term of the note was seven years, and was secured by the property.

Laconia will become the sole tenant of the restored Colonial Theatre auditorium for the first seven years following its renovation, and the facility will be used as a civic auditorium, with the city determining who uses it and at what cost users will be charged. The city will have an option to buy the auditorium from the BEDC at the end of the seven-year period for an amount equal to the face value of the note.

Slattery said the BEDC has been actively looking to secure about $14.6 million in funding for the restoration, with much of that coming from federal and state grants and tax credits.

Another $1 to $2 million for the project is expected to come from private donors, and Slattery said that he expects a major public fundraising initiative for the project to commence at some point this fall.

“It really takes a community to get a project like this off the ground,” Slattery said.

Once completed, Slattery said the Colonial Theatre is expected to seat 725 people.

Read the story at: http://www.citizen.com/news/2016-05-25/Front_Page/Preparations_for_Colonial_Theatre_renovation_proce.html

ABOUT THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA: Founded by Ben Hall in 1969, the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS) celebrates, documents and promotes the architectural, cultural and social relevance of America’s historic theatres. Through its preservation of the collections in the American Theatre Architecture Archive, its signature publication Marquee\ and Conclave Theatre Tour, THS increases awareness, appreciation and scholarly study of America’s theatres.

Learn more about historic theatres in the THS American Theatre Architecture Archives and on our website at historictheatres.org

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