Requesting Intervention on behalf of The SENATOR Theatre

posted by Maximillian Genus on November 18, 2009 at 3:59 pm


Dear Friends,

We are volunteers at The Senator Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland and members of the advocacy group, Friends of The Senator [FOTS].

The Senator was recently acquired through foreclosure by Baltimore City, and the responsibility of determining the future of the irreplaceable historic theatre has been delegated to the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC), a public/private non-profit that primarily serves as the city’s real estate development agency. The BDC issued a Request For Proposal (RFP) to identify a potential buyer or lessee for The Senator Theatre, without prior professional consultation with experts in the field of historic theatre preservation. The RFP submissions are due on Friday November 20th.

Friends of The Senator advocacy is focused on ensuring that Baltimore’s nationally renowned art deco landmark, listed on the National Register, will successfully make the precarious transition from one family’s seven decades of award-winning stewardship to become the region’s premiere, community-oriented entertainment and educational venue under non-profit ownership.

Our organization is concerned that there is little local awareness of The Senator Theatre’s great potential to evolve as a civic asset and economic engine through community-oriented, non-profit ownership, as so many other historic theatres have nationwide. The fact that the BDC issued The Senator RFP to determine the historic theatre’s new owner or operator without a prior study or consultation with industry professionals is troubling.

The BDC is approaching this matter from the agency’s traditional perspective and preparing to transfer ownership of Baltimore’s unique and irreplaceable source of civic pride as a problematic parcel of real estate housing a currently unprofitable, for-profit business. The most likely outcome is that they will transfer it to a private developer. While we respect the BDC’s best intentions in that regard, we are aware that with regards to the iconic Senator Theatre, this is a needlessly limited and fundamentally flawed approach.

At this turning point in The Senator Theatre’s rich history, the FOTS organization is reaching out to encourage input from historic theatre redevelopment professionals or others with information to share that may help to rectify the situation.

Hopefully at this pivotal stage, historic theatre professionals and preservation experts from around the nation, who recognize the enormous upside potential for a vibrant, enhanced and economically viable non-profit-based redevelopment and refurbishment of The Senator Theatre, will respond with information and input that may prove helpful. We are particularly interested in letters supporting this vision for The Senator as well as those relating the experiences of communities that have successfully launched non-profit ventures to preserve and restore their historic theatres.

We will be most grateful if you would forward such letters, as soon as possible, to one of the contacts listed below.

Many thanks for your time, consideration and cooperation! We hope to see you someday at The SENATOR!

Warm regards,

Laura Perkins
Friends of The Senator Theatre

402 Rosebank Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21212
(410) 435-1572


Tom Harris
Friends of The Senator Theatre

6 Beacon Hill Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21207
(410) 984-9759

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Comments (3)

JodarMovieFan on November 19, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Since I’m neither a historic theater expert or non-profit professional I cannot help. I’m sad that the Senator isn’t showing first run movies anymore. For me, its basically a closing chapter of driving in to a wonderful place to experience event blockbuster movies for the last decade with other cinephile enthusiasts. While I do get their emails that promote their current programming of live shows and niche movies, they do not appeal to me. I wish you all the best. Farewell.

ChasSmith on November 20, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Same. All best wishes to the Senator.

CSWalczak on November 22, 2009 at 12:36 am

Here’s a November 21, 2009 article from the Baltimore Sun indicating that four proposals for the theater have been received by the BDC; two of them apparently would provide for maintaining movie showings: View link

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