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April of 2010 - the City of Laconia signed an 18 month Option Agreement with Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence Baldi to acquire the Colonial Theatre property for $1.4 million with an eye towards a public/private ownership structure to restore and operate the theatre. That Option Agreement has been extended to April 2012. The 1,250 seat theatre was opened in 1914 as a live performance center. In addition to the auditorium, the property includes 8 commercial storefront spaces and 18 apartments. Below is an excerpt from the Laconia Democrat dated Friday, April 17, 1914 about its opening day on April 13, 1914:
"The opening of the Colonial Theatre, erected by Mr. Benjamin Piscopo of Laconia and leased by Mr. Charles Waldron of the Boston Casino Theatre, this week, is worthy of more than a passing notice, for through the enterprise of Mr. Piscopo the Lake City can now boast of a theatre which is about twenty-five years ahead of the times and a handsomer and more convenient playhouse than is to be found in New England outside of the very largest cities."
May 24, 2010 - At a public hearing regarding the purchase, restoration and revitalization of the theatre, many residents recounted their fond memories of times spent at the theatre. Originally providing films, musical performances and vaudeville shows, the theatre was also the gathering place for other local events such as dance recitals, civic events and Putnam Fund shows. In the mid-1980's, it was divided into five separate movie theaters and in 2001, the theatre went dark and remains closed today.
January 31, 2011 - At a special meeting of the City Council at the Belknap Mill, Duncan Webb of the consulting firm of Webb Management Services, Inc. of New York City presented a feasibility study regarding the possible purchase, operation, renovation and restoration of this 96 year old historic theatre.
(Click here to view the Feasibility Study)
(Consultant Presentation on 1/31/11)
February, 2011 - the City Council formed an Advisory Committee of 12 citizen members to determine the feasibility of purchasing, restoring and operating the Colonial Theatre property. In June of 2011, the Advisory Committee filed paperwork with the New Hampshire Secretary of State's Office and officially became a non-profit group known as the Cultural Arts Center of the Lakes Region, Inc. This committee has been meeting bi-monthly since February and gathering as much information as possible to assist them in determining this project's feasibility. The Cultural Arts Center of the Lakes Region, Inc. hopes to make its final determination sometime by the end of 2011.
May, 2011 - an application was filed with the NH Division of Historical Resources requesting the Theatre be considered "eligible" for historic designation. On May 31, 2011, the Committee was notified the Theatre had received this eligibility designation. This designation is key to applying for future grants.
July 13, 2011 - the Committee was notified by the NH Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) that it had been awarded $625,000 in tax credits that could be sold to firms and the funds raised could be used towards the purchase of the Colonial Theatre. Anyone interested in purchasing tax credits should contact Carmen Lorentz of the Belknap County Economic Development Office at 603-524-3057 for information.
August, 2011 - the architectural firm of Wilson Butler and Building Conservation Associates, Inc. of Boston will begin an architectural study and historical assessment of the Theatre. This study and assessment are needed in order to obtain information concerning the restoration and renovation costs for the project.
September 2011- The Committee plans to file an application with the NH Land & Comunity Heritage Investment Program for an LCHIP grant. If this grant is awarded, the funds will be used for additional studies that need to be done in order to make a final determination about the future of the project and for use towards the purchase price.
The goal of this site is to provide the public with updated information regarding the progress of the Committee as it determines the feasibility of purchasing, restoring and operating this grand theatre in downtown Laconia. If you would like to add your name to the list of supporters for the Colonial Theatre or have any questions, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 603-527-1270.