Park Theatre set to come down

Jaffrey: Historic building to be Transformed

Beginning at 7 a.m. this morning, the old Park Theatre building will come down. The demolition comes after years of planning, fundraising and persistence.

After receiving Jaffrey Planning Board approval in June, the Park Theatre Board of Trustees decided to move forward with plans for demolition and construction of a new theater after learning that restoration costs would be too high.

Though the old building will be gone, Caroline Hollister, president of the Park Theatre’s Board of Trustees, told the Ledger-Transcript last summer that the new theater would try to bring back the art deco style of the original theater, which closed its doors in the 1970s. In addition to using the bold colors and geometric design style of decades past, and the original wall lights and theater seats, the new theater will also hold memorabilia from theater founder and builder Romulo Vanni’s home .

The new theater is expected to seat 400 people.

The Park Theatre project took a big step forward on Sept. 26, when the $2 million loan needed to construct a new theater was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Community Facilities program. The money needed for demolition, $300,000, was available thanks to local business donations totaling $100,000 that made the Park Theatre eligible for $200,000 in tax credits from the N.H. Community Development Finance Authority. With funding in place, the reconstruction project is set to begin, no small part of which is being accomplished with today’s demolition.

Hutter Construction of New Ipswich has arranged for the demolition and clean-up of the site to be done by Monadnock Disposal Services and Mountainshade, both Jaffrey businesses. In addition to tearing the old theater down, there will be a Groundbreaking Celebration starting at 9 a.m., which will include food and entertainment. In attendance will be representatives from the USDA, the N.H. Community Development Finance Authority, Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office, Senator Kelly Ayotte’s office, Congresswoman Ann Kuster’s office, the town, state Legislature, the Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce, citizen’s groups and the Park Theatre Board of Trustees.

Hollister wrote in a recent email to the Ledger-Transcript that the demolition is expected to last through Wednesday. Clean-up of the site, including removal of debris and cement foundations, leveling out the new theater site, installation of a fence around the property with a project sign in front of it, should be done by the beginning of January.

In a phone interview Monday, Park Theatre Trustee John Sepe said he expected the new theater to by completed by spring 2016. “It depends on a lot of factors, of course,” he added.

According to Sepe, construction should begin late in the fall of 2014.

Elodie can be reached by phone at 924-7172 ext. 228, or by email at ereed@ledgertranscript.com. Elodie is also on Twitter @elodie_reed.

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