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Jaffrey’s Park Theatre targets mid-January construction start

  • Excavation work for the construction of the Park Theatre has an anticipated target date of the second week of January. The Park Theatre has officially raised all funds and has final approval for a $2 million USDA loan as of last week. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Excavation work for the construction of the Park Theatre has an anticipated target date of the second week of January. The Park Theatre has officially raised all funds and has final approval for a $2 million USDA loan as of last week. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Excavation work for the construction of the Park Theatre has an anticipated target date of the second week of January. The Park Theatre has officially raised all funds and has final approval for a $2 million USDA loan as of last week. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, December 04, 2018 11:52AM

The second week of January has been targeted as the start date for excavation work to build the new Park Theatre in Jaffrey.

Construction can now begin, board of trustees president Caroline Hollister said Friday, as the USDA Rural Development Office has officially approved a $2 million loan for the theater’s construction on Tuesday – the final financial piece needed to construct the 485-seat, fully accessible theater. 

Hollister said all local, state, and federal requirements have now been met, officially opening the door to construction and a potential spring 2020 opening. 

“We are always thinking of what we need to do and planning ahead, so our enthusiasm is tempered by the reality of what is to come and what must be done,” Hollister said. “But we are sustained by the proven support we have in our community. We feel confident people will come to our aid in the year that lies ahead and help us to do everything we would like to see done and needs to be done.”

The first iteration of the Park Theatre opened in 1922. The theater served as a movie and vaudeville house until it closed in 1976. 

Hollister is a member of the original eight person group that formed in the summer of 2005 to purchase the Park Theatre property for $200,000. 

“It’s what gets us up in the morning… we’re a bunch of yankees who are going to get the job done,” Hollister said. “We love this town and we love this community and the region itself and we have gotten so much support from so many people that it sustains us, it encourages us.”

Since then, Hollister estimates that 58,000 volunteer hours have been devoted to completing what Park Theatre CEO Steve Jackson called “chapter one” of the new Park Theatre’s existence. 

“This is a new chapter. The first chapter was a very long chapter but it was worth a read,” Jackson said. “It’s the one to reread because you can’t get to chapter two without finishing completely chapter one.”

Since 2005, the theater has raised over $6 million – which includes money needed architectural plans, legal bills, buying the old theater space, and other preconstruction costs. 

“This is definitely not a group of eight people, or even a group of ten. It’s a group of thousands who are really the people who have made this happen,” Hollister said, of the donors, volunteers, and others who have helped along the way. 

With construction costs fundraised, theater personnel will now turn their efforts to raising money to furnish the theater.

Jackson said there will also be efforts made to raise more money so the theater doesn’t have to take out the entire $2 million loan. 

A Nov. 15, 2017 groundbreaking date was set in the fall last year, but a number of delays came up since then, which pushed off construction. 

Last September, the Park Theatre set a construction date of Nov. 15, 2017 but a number of delays pushed construction back.

“We thought we would be where we are now a year ago,” Hollister said. “… You have to really dot your i’s and cross your t’s. There have been a lot of requirements we have had to meet.”

Both Hollister and Jackson said the theater projects to be an economic boom for Jaffrey and the surrounding towns.

Conservative estimates indicate 25,000 per year coming to the theater, Jackson said.

People coming to the theater would likely make a larger impact in the Monadnock region, Hollister said, as they would likely get gas, eat, sleep, and recreate in Jaffrey and the surrounding towns. 

“When people talk about an economic boost, that’s what  people are talking about.,” Hollister said. “People will want to come here as tourists, and people will want to come here to live.”

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com.