Curtain Call: The Role of Historic Theatres in the Revitalization of Erie Canalway Communities
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Type of Work244 p.
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
RightsTo view a complete copy of this thesis please contact Goucher College Special Collections & Archives at email@example.com or (410) 337-6075.
historic theatre rehabilitation
Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor
motion picture palaces
arts and community development
Historic preservation -- Theses
Historic buildings -- Conservation and restoration -- New York (State) -- Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor
Theaters -- Conservation and restoration -- New York (State) -- Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor
Historic theatres capture the fascination of all who enter their treasured performance halls. Rehabilitated theatres have the added advantage of making a positive impact on their communities. This thesis proposes that the reuse of a historic theatre can play a role in the revitalization of a community and provides evidence from a number of examples in a study area, the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor in New York State. The Erie Canal, once a catalyst for community growth, economic development and social change, has evolved into a recreational and tourist attraction and is now part of a congressionally-designated National Heritage Corridor. Historically, theatres contributed to the growth and prosperity of a community. Today, their operation and reuse as part of the Canalway Corridor can have a similar effect. The wealth of successful historic theatre rehabilitation projects within the Erie Canalway Corridor – from nineteenth century opera houses and music halls, to early- twentieth century vaudeville stages and motion picture palaces – proves that reuse of a historic theatre can have a positive impact on its community. This study uses five areas of opportunity – architectural and historic integrity, business structure, sustainability, programming, and community impact – to examine existing programs. Central to the information gathered for this study were several interviews with theatre staff using a questionnaire specifically-designed for the project, and site visits to more than a dozen historic theatres in the region. This method of research allowed for an informed analysis of the five areas of opportunity, enabling the thesis to highlight best practices used by theatres in the study. Because of the number of extant historic theatres in the Erie Canalway Corridor, New York State, and throughout the United States, this thesis confirms the importance of historic theatres as catalysts for community revitalization.