Ruth Doan MacDougall
As her time permits, Ruth writes essays about life in and around her neighborhood. Topics vary, but something interesting is always going on in Ruth's Neighborhood!
Restoring the Colonial Theater
July 3, 2016
Five years ago I wrote a “Ruth’s Neighborhood” piece about Laconia’s Colonial Theater. Built in 1915 for plays and vaudeville acts, it still retained its splendor in the 1940s and 1950s when my generation went there regularly, from childhood Saturday matinees to teenage evening dates. The Cheerleader’s fictional version of it says, “When Snowy was younger, the theater had seemed to her a palace, its chandeliers and gold scrollwork and dark-red curtain and plush seats so rich and wonderful that she couldn’t believe she was allowed in for just twelve cents.”
But, trying to keep up with the times, in 1983 it was divided into five theaters. This multiplex idea didn’t succeed, and when I wrote my 2011 piece the Colonial had closed and been put up for sale.
Last year a miracle happened. Through the Belknap Economic Development Council, 609 Main Street LLC bought it and embarked on a $15 million restoration and renovation project.
This spring, work began. In photographs in the Laconia newspapers we’ve seen the removal of partitions and five projection booths and the dropped ceiling. We’ve read th at the method is more “disassembly” than demolition. Gradually what we remember is being revealed, such as the beautiful murals and proscenium arch.
The movie theater’s property includes several stores along Main Street and a side street, Canal Street. On Snowy and Tom’s first date, he parked his Chevy convertible on just such a side street around the corner from the theater. Three of the Canal Street businesses have had to look for new premises, because they were built in the location of the original entrance to the stage, through which, as the Laconia Daily Sun reports, “elephants and automobiles along with stage sets, sound equipment, and other large items once passed.” Don and I wish we’d known in our youth about those elephants in the theater’s early history.
Here is that piece describing our own Colonial Theater history.
Ruth's Neighborhood Blog Entries Directory
Three-Ring Circus (Jan 2017/Mch 2017)
Restoring the Colonial Theater (July 2016)
Reunion at Sawyer's Dairy Bar (Sept. 2015)
Going to the Dump (May 2015)
A Curmudgeon's Lament (Jan 2014)
Aprons (April 2014_
Our Green-and-Stone-ribbed World (June, 2014)
Playing Tourist (Oct. 2014)
Favorite Books (January 2013)
Penny Cats (March 2013)
Why Climb a Mountain (June 2013)
Sawyer's Dairy Bar (Oct. 2013)
Neighborhood Stoves (Feb. 2012)
Mother West Wind (May)
Niobe (July 2012)
Robin SUmmer (Sept 2012)
Marion's Christmas Snowball (Dec. 2012)
The Colonial Theater (May 2011
Mother Goose (June 20110
The Lot (Dec.r2011)