Victory Theatre restoration to break ground June 1, 2012
Date: 11/9/2011Nov. 9, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
HOLYOKE Holyoke Mayor Elaine Pluta joined Donald Sanders, executive artistic director of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA), on Nov. 2 to announce the selection of the firm that will be the architects for the Victory Theatre restoration.
Durkee, Brown, Viveiros Werenfels Architects of Providence, R.I., have a track record of restoring historic theaters, Sanders explained, and were chosen out of a field of six firms.
“This was really a tough choice,” Sanders said. “All six firms were superb and it was an honor to have architects of this caliber spending time in Holyoke responding to the treasure that is our Victory and working so hard on their proposal. In the end, Durkee Brown had the winning combination of visual finesse for the Victory’s historic interior, contemporary vision for its modern updating and a price that was the most competitive.”
Pluta called the restoration and re-opening of the long-closed theater as “a basic component of the viability of the city’s future.”
She added the restored theater would also play a role in the city’s education system.
Sanders said the goals would be to restore much of the theater’s interiors, but also bring the restroom facilities up to date as well as extend the stage from eight to 10 feet.
“When this building is completed, we will see it as old and very new at the same time,” Sanders said.
Durkee, Brown, Viveiros Werenfels Architects have restored the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington, the Victoria Theatre in Dayton, Ohio, and the Sanford White Theatre in Newport, R.I.
Sanders said that what now follows is “an intense timeline.” Over the next six months, the plans will be made as well as the selection of a construction company.
He said the intent is to have a groundbreaking on June 1, 2012.
The project recently received an additional award of $400,000 in Massachusetts historic tax credits giving a total of $3.4 million in tax credits, Sanders explained.
The additional tax credits are “a testament to just how much everyone in this state wants this to happen,” Sanders said.
The cost of the project is $28 million and Sanders said that, “if everything comes through,” MIFA has raised $22 million through federal tax credits, new market tax credits, state and city grants and donations. The fund-raising effort continues, he added.
One of the last fund-raising efforts will be the sale of seats and the naming of parts of the theater. Sanders said the cost of naming seats would be from $1,000 to $5,000.
Built in 1919 and opened on Dec. 30, 1920, The Victory was originally a theater for stage productions and vaudeville. It became a movie theater in 1931.
Closed and abandoned in 1979, a quick tour of the interior not only showed the work that has been done already cleaning and the restoration of electricity – but the remaining challenges. Leaking water is still an issue and a steady beat of drops could be heard on the first floor. The plaster walls are in decay and the wooden stage floor needs substantial repair.
There are several unique art installations in the building, though, that hint at the new life that building might have.
For more information on the fund-raising campaign, log onto www.mifafestival.org