Long-time Park Theatre board head steps down as theater readies to open

  • Caroline Hollister signs her name on the back of the Park Theatre marquee in April. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/6/2021 2:32:47 PM

The Jaffrey Park Theatre has announced it will open for business this summer. With the building complete and nearly fully outfitted, Caroline Hollister, who has spent years devoted to the project, is stepping away from her duties as president of the theater’s board of trustees.

On June 30, the Park Theatre announced it does plan to open this summer, and is currently in the final stages of installing movie equipment and concessions.

The final opening date of the theater has not yet been announced, other than confirmation that the theater will open this year, before the end of the summer season.

With perhaps only weeks to go before the official opening of the theater, Hollister, who has headed the revival of the theater for nearly two decades, has passed the leadership baton to Nancy Belletete, who has also been a long-time member of the Park Theatre Board of Trustees.

“My goal was to get the Theatre built and reopen it,” Hollister said in a statement from the Park Theatre. “We are at that moment. It’s been a much longer journey than any of us ever imagined. In the end, it took nearly everyone in the town of Jaffrey, the state and federal government to get it done. I am grateful to so many for so much, more than I could say. I am sad to leave, but 99 percent of the work is done. It’s the perfect time to step aside and let a new team with fresh ideas run it and make it, as it once was, the center of community life for our town.”

Hollister was among the original team that dreamed of reviving the defunct theater, and was recruited in 2005, when TEAM Jaffrey secured an option to purchase the property.

The building had not functioned as a theater for years, and a team was needed to take over the restoration of the building and to reopen it as a theater. Hollister, along with other Jaffrey residents, including Jeff Crocker, Jim DuMont, Steve Krause, Bill Schofield, Steve Walker, Cyndy Burgess and Rob Stephenson incorporated the organization as the Park Theatre, and began the long process that would lead to once again having a theater on Main Street.

Eventually, it was determined the building was not salvageable, and instead of a renovation project, the building was torn down, and a new construction plan put into place. The new building follows the same general layout of the original structure, though is larger and includes two screening rooms. The main screening room includes a 425 seat auditorium, and a stage that can be used for live performances as well as film showings.

Belletete, who has taken up the mantle of president from Hollister, has also been with the project nearly since its inception, joining the board in 2006. She has been heavily involved with the Park Theatre’s program and activities, including the Free Film Festival and chairing a campaign to sell dedications of theater seats to raise funds for the construction of the theater.

“I will do my best to fill Caroline’s shoes and fulfill the mission of the Theatre, ‘A regional center for the arts and entertainment, a meeting place for the community and a dynamic force in the region’s economic vitality and quality of life,’” Belletete said in the announcement of her appointment. “On behalf of The Board of Trustees, thank you very much for your support over the years. We could not have done it without you. We look forward to opening our doors and entertaining you for the next 100 years to come.”

The Board of Trustees has also announced Marcie MacKenzie, a resident of Jaffrey, has been selected as the new Treasurer of the Park Theatre as of August. MacKenzie is a wealth manager at Charter Trust Company, and has 20 years of experience in the financial services and legal fields.

If you would like to contribute to the final outfitting of the theater, donations can be made through a “gift registry available at Park2021.com. Donations for items are tax-deductible. The theater is also currently looking for volunteers for ushers and the box office and stage production. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, visit theparktheatre.org/volunteer.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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