Once one of the great show halls in New Hampshire is on the mend...
The Colonial Theater Marquee in better times, downtown Laconia, N.H., summer 1966 (Dean Dexter Polaroid photo)
Restoration of Colonial Theater Resumes - Bea Lewis in the NH Union Leader December 22, 2019
Laconia City Council Approves $6.7 Million Bond to Fund Colonial Theater Restoration
Moribund Project on Road to Recovery July 23, 2019 Bea Lewis in the NH Union Leader Laconia Daily Sun
Laconia, NH - June 26, 2019 -- Meredith Developer Rusty McLear has announced plans to build eight to 10 "market rate" apartment/condominiums on the second and third floors in Laconia's downtown Colonial Theater complex. The move is good news for the stalled effort to restore the iconic theater and renovate commercial space included in the property. Says theater has always been "near and dear to his heart." See stories here: link-1. link-2.
June 15, 2015: City of Laconia Partners to Purchase and Restore Landmark Colonial Theater
Funding soon hits snags
See Project information at Official City of Laconia Webpage
The Colonial Theater, Laconia, New Hampshire, marquee and blade, the Summer of 1966 (Dean Dexter Polaroid photo, all rights reserved).
Opened in 1914 with 1200-plus seats under the management of Charles H. Waldron of Boston, here's the interior of Laconia's venerable Colonial Theater as it appeared in the early 1970s after the elegant deep red curtains were removed from the box seating areas in each side of the auditorium, and when new reclining seats were installed in the middle section; also before the whole area, including the stage were broken up to create a five-screen multiplex in 1983. The building has been closed since 2002. Photo: Dean Dexter collection.
August, 2016. A work in progress. The project is suspended awaiting additional funding (2019).
Okay, file under Back in the Day. Here, at left there was a magnificent grandfather's clock. At right was the candy counter. You and your friends would enter these still happily intact doors into a dark and magical place, with lights dim. Down in front, heavy, maroon theater curtains stood closed across the stage. One would fidget, look around, chew on some popcorn. Just before the film rolled, these great curtains would slowly open to reveal the motion picture screen. A flare of the drama from another age, even at that time. The grand, hand painted vaudeville curtain that few were fully aware of remained rolled above the stage with only a portion visible, and was never used. I saw it down but once, filling the stage. I think it was in the early 1970s. Recent newspaper reports (2018) indicate this irreplaceable hand-painted artifact is intact and apparently in good shape.
Old Postcards showing the entrance lobby and ticket window, the seats and balcony from the stage, and grand stage and orchestra pit of Laconia's historic Colonial Theater in its heyday.
Top: Entrance to Laconia's historic Colonial Theater, Main Street, 1954, with the blade over the marquee. MGM's "Men of the Fighting Lady" is the feature with Van Johnson and Walter Pidgeon; and without the blade and marquee in a vintage postcard.
Laconia Mayor Robinson W. Smith is sworn in for a fifth term on the stage of the Colonial Theater by City Solicitor, later Superior Court Judge William W. Keller, March 27, 1955. Also pictured is the Rev. John S. Vail, and the Rev. George Chicoine, who delivered the benediction and invocation respectively. Dr. Smith holds the record of number of terms as Laconia Mayor. He served also as assistant commissioner of agriculture and later as New Hampshire's first State Veterinarian, from July 1, 1921 until his death on February 11,1964. (Dean Dexter Collection)
The year was 1939
For More information, Contact:
The Office of City Manager, Laconia, N. H.
Or the Belknap County Economic Development Council here.
Original Material Copyright Dean Dexter
Posted: November 17, 2008, updated February 24, 2010, June 6, 2010, June 16, 2015, March 8, 2019
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