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Victory Theater qualifies for inclusion to National Register

Date: 11/21/2014

HOLYOKE – The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) Victory Theatre at 81-89 Suffolk St. was recently deemed qualified for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The Massachusetts Historical Commission allocated $4.2 million in state historical tax credits for a restoration project, and forwarded a recommendation to the National Register.

Recognition by the National Register would allow for significant federal historical tax credits. Following previous Community Investment Tax Credits and newly designated state historical tax credits, MIFA is in the process of raising the remaining  $8 million to begin work on the $28 million restoration project, according to Emily Mann, communications officer for MIFA.

“Meeting state criteria is an important first step for funding this project. The next step will be the National Register making their final determination,” she said.

MIFA gained possession of Victory Theatre in 2009. The building has been vacant since 1979. Until the restoration project begins, MIFA hopes to maintain the current integrity of the building, with windows and doors remaining boarded.

Victory Theatre opened in 1919. While the building structure remains sound, the building has weathered decades of water damage and deterioration.

The Massachusetts Historical Commission recognized Victory Theatre as an eligible state historic site for its association with the social, recreational, and entertainment history of Holyoke. It is also the last remaining historical theater in Holyoke, featuring the work of architects William Mowll and Roger Rand, as well as artist Vincent Maragliotti.

“It’s a grand endorsement that the outside world recognizes what proud Holyokers have always known that our city and our history are worth preserving and [that] the Victory Theatre can bring new economic life,” Don Sanders, MIFA Victory Theatre executive artistic director, said.

The process of financing the restoration and reopening of Victory Theatre has spanned the last five years. MIFA’s goal is to break ground on restoration in summer 2015. The long-term goal is to reestablish Victory Theatre as a community performing arts center that will stimulate both the culture and economy of Holyoke, Mann explained.