609 Main Street, LLC is the physical address of the Colonial Theater.
The Belknap Economic Development Council, in an effort to renovate and restore the Colonial Theater property, completed the purchase of the building on 7/17/2016.
Belknap EDC is a non-profit regional development corporation. Belknap EDC provides technical assistance and alternative financing to local businesses and works to address the region’s long-term economic development challenges by attracting young talent, supporting entrepreneurs, enhancing workforce development programs, and serving as a catalyst and partner for property development in the region. Visit www.BelknapEDC.org for more information.
Belknap EDC has contracted with Re/Max Bayside Rentals and Management to provide property management services for the property.
For information about leasing space in the 609 Main Street block, contact Chris Kelly at Re/Max Bayside Realty.
The City Of Laconia will be the leasee for 7 years with the intentions of using the restored facility as a rental house.
Every dollar counts! Support the redevelopment here!
There will be 750 seats within the Theatre; 450 of which will be located at the main orchestra level with the remaining 300 seats located up in the balcony. When the Theatre first opened in April 1914, there were 1,400 seats; however, with today’s safety and fire codes, and current trends in seating design, we see a significant reduction in the total number of occupants a performance venue can host.
No. Despite popular belief, no circus actually performed at the Colonial Theatre. There are many accounts of the circus coming to town; however, they were located at either Opechee Park or Memorial Park (then called the Pearl Street Grounds). There is documentation of the opera “Aida” by Guiseppe Veri, being performed at the Colonial Theatre. The opera called for a small elephant, among other animals, to be a part of the production, which could have contributed to the current myth of a circus performance. An original newspaper article from April 15, 1914 from the Laconia “News and Critic”, also claims: “The entrance to the stage from Canal Street is sufficiently spacious to admit…animals of the hippodrome.” At that point, no animals had yet to step foot on the stage.
Yes; the original fire curtain from 1914 has remained hanging in the Theatre, throughout the course of the building’s life. Although fixed in place during the renovations and conversion to a five-screen cinema in the 1980’s, a portion of the original Venetian scene is still visible, with no apparent damage other than age.
Benjamin Piscopo, owner and mastermind behind the Colonial Theatre, was born in a small village outside of Naples, Italy. When Mr. Piscopo arrived in Laconia, and sought to build a grand theatre, he commissioned the Theatre to be designed and decorated to match the grandiose of the Italian opera houses of his childhood. Although at a much smaller scale, it is believed that elements of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, and La Fenice Opera in Venice, were the inspiration.
Yes and No. The iconic marquee and blade that illuminate Main Street, were installed in 1932. Originally, there was a thin, steel and glass awning supported by large chains with “Colonial” etched in the glass. Today, the large chains still support the marquee; however, it is believed that the original awning was taken down when the marquee was hung in the 30’s. Furthermore, the marquee faces were altered when the theatre was retrofitted for five movie screens, with plastic display boards applied to the three faces of the sign.
All of the program spaces that generally make-up the Backstage of a theater, were originally located within the Canal Street Triangle, where the Frates Dance Studio had been. The entrance to the old dance studio was through the large, original Scenery Doors – the top of which is still intact. Some of the changing rooms can still be found in the space today. In the redevelopment of the building, the entirety of the Canal Street Triangle will become Backstage space, providing ample areas for changing rooms, prop storage, and rehearsal space. Although this reconfiguration removes the three retail spaces, the historic storefront windows will be fully restored, providing passersby the opportunity to see ‘behind the scenes’ of the current and upcoming performances.
The four retail units fronting Main Street will remain. Keeping with the original construct, there are two commercial units flanking the recessed entrance to the Theatre off Main Street. These units will have their original historic tin ceilings, storefront glazing, and prismatic glass fully restored, alongside their original wood flooring. A wide variety of business types have occupied these units over the course of the building’s life, providing an array of services to our community.
Fourteen market-rate apartments will be located on the upper two floors of the Main Street building, with unique views of Main Street, Canal Street, and the downtown core. Historically, these floors contained eighteen, two-room office units, with detailed wood work and decorative glass dividing and pulling light to the interior of the spaces. By the early 1930’s these units began to transition into apartments. Many of the historic characteristics of these spaces remain unaltered and will be integrated in the redevelopment of the apartments, complementing the new, modern work. Each unit will have a full kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, with four units having an additional bathroom and office space. The building will be equipped with shared laundry rooms on each floor, as well as secured storage spaces for each tenant. The original stairs will remain, illuminated by the restored, historic skylight that sits centered over them. A new elevator will provide accessible access to each floor from a new entry along Canal Street.
The Colonial Theatre has been designed to accommodate a wide variety of performances and community needs. Stage shows and musicals, symphonies and musical concerts, dance recitals and ballets, movie screenings and public presentations, and political debates and civic meetings, are just a few of the anticipated uses.
Although the Theatre hosted many local celebrities and public figures, there have been very few documented Hollywood actors or people of national significance. From Hollywood, actress Margaret Hamilton was noted to have visited, and actor John Carradine was documented visiting the area and conversing with one of the usherettes. Local author, Grace Metalious enjoyed the Theatre at the world premiere of “Return to Payton Place” in 1961. In October 1956, a delegation from the United Nations hosted the “4th U.N. Town Meeting of the World” at the Colonial Theatre, with representatives from India, Iran, Israel and the United States.