This post was originally posted on After the Final Curtain’s Patreon in September 2021. For expanded early posts, as well as video walkthroughs and other exclusive content you can become a patron at: https://www.patreon.com/afterthefinalcurtain
I’ve been photographing theaters for long enough that many have been completely restored and reopened since I first visited them. The Colonial Theatre in Laconia, NH, is one of those I have documented before, during, and after restoration.
Work began in March 2016, when the partitions divided the auditorium into four screens were removed. Fortunately, those who did this work left much of the original plasterwork intact behind the new walls. Belknap EDC brought in Evergreene Architectural Arts to restore the plasterwork and recreate some of the details that had been destroyed or deteriorated over the years. For example, the original fire curtain remains intact but needs some work before it can be used.
The total restoration cost was $14.4 million, and the finished theater will seat 750 people, with 450 in the orchestra and 300 on the balcony. Spectacle Management of Lexington, Massachusetts, has been contracted to manage the theater. The official grand opening and ribbon cutting took place on August 27, 2021. In addition to bookings from Spectacle, the Colonial will be open to weddings, dance groups, meetings, and community productions.