Laconia, NH - Fundraising continues for Colonial Theater

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on August 11, 2016 at 3:48 am


From The Citizen: The Colonial Theater fundraising efforts and planning are well underway, and recently $30,000 was donated toward the Colonial Theater capital campaign, which has a $2 million goal to raise by the end of the year.

This donation was by Hali Dearborn and her family, and Belknap EDC Executive Director Justin Slattery said these types of efforts are what will bring them to their goal. He did not provide a dollar amount of where fundraising stood at this time, Slattery was confident that they would reach the goal and said right now “things are on schedule.”

“Fundraising is going very well,” said Slattery. “We are making great progress.”

Slattery said the capital campaign has continued to work closer to their goal and Belknap EDC will update the community with major donations like that of the Dearborn family. He said people like the Dearborn and others are so important to the project and that type of generosity will help them pass the finish line. Slattery said donation amounts have been across the board and have come from individuals, families and businesses.

Back in June the capital campaign was kicked off with a huge $500,000 donation by Bank of New Hampshire to help get the fundraising ball rolling.

Slattery said the planning and design phase for the theater is also well underway. He said this is a very comprehensive planning discussion, with drawings, in an effort to ensure the theater is being designed for optimal use and also with modern features while keeping the historic integrity. He said as fall approached there continues to be great support for the project.

“Our project team, architects, construction team, engineers and others are really working through the project one step at a time to build a quality building, and in the end a quality theater,” said Slattery.

Belknap EDC is a non-profit regional development corporation that provides technical assistance and alternative financing to businesses. The organization also addresses the region’s long-term economic development challenges. This is done through attracting young talent, enhancing workforce development programs and supporting entrepreneurs.

The Colonial Theater was built in 1914 and once hosted various shows and special events. It is known for its unique architecture and designs. The building was used as a move theater that in the 1980s was fitted with five screens. It has been vacant since 2003 when it was only used as a movie complex during Laconia Motorcycle Week.

In June 2015, Laconia City Council partnered with Belknap EDC to assist in buying the property through an interest-only loan of $1.4 million to Belknap EDC. It was also agreed to give another interest-only loan of $2 to $3 million for facilitating closing on restoration and renovation work on the property.

Belknap EDC completed the purchase of the Colonial Theater on July 17. The city of Laconia will be the leasee for seven years with the intention of having it restored and used as a rental house. Belknap EDC has contracted with Re/Max Bayside Rentals to manage the property.

The building has been gutted in recent months with extensive renovations. Tours are being given next week for people to get a glimpse of how amazing the theater can and will be. Construction is slated for January where about 725 seats will be installed. In the end, officials say this could be about a $15 million project. The city and Belknap EDC have partnered with the Cultural Arts Center of the Lakes Region who is assisting with fundraising efforts.

Anyone interested in learning more about the capital campaign or making a contribution is asked to contact Belknap EDC at 524-3057 or log onto

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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


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