(ABC 6, Melissa Randall)
A historic theater in Newport is getting a major face lift. Work will soon begin restoring the opera house and performing arts center to its original glory.
The opera house closed in 2010. Six years later, the historic theater in Washington Square is getting a second chance to dazzle patrons. Monday’s ceremonial ground breaking set the state for a major restoration.
“The building you are in right now, all the pieces that you see here are going to be restored, things replaced,” says John Cratin III, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors.
It’s going to be a complete gut job, but Cratin, ensures the end result will be well worth it.
Design plans include a modernized stage and auditorium, upgraded equipment, and a rooftop garden terrace.
“You have to use a little bit of imagination right now, but the venue will hold 700 seats where patrons can come and enjoy year-round programming,” says Cratin.
Construction will start this Spring. The project’s 14 million dollar state grant was approved by voters in 2014. In turn, estimates are that the theater and its audience will generate 1.6 million per year into the economy, including supporting 54 new jobs.
“We have to promote our competitive strengths if we’re going to get the economy back on track and certainly arts and culture is a deep and abiding historical strength of Rhode Island,” says Governor Gina Raimondo.
The building is among the ten oldest surviving opera houses in America and is the oldest in Rhode Island. The restoration is already creating a buzz among performers.
“They understand the value of culture that exists in this town and so we’re excited to bring that back,” adds Cratin.
The theater is scheduled to open in December of next year–the 150th anniversary of its original opening in 1867 in Newport.