Johnson Hall in Gardiner prepares for start of renovations at historic opera house

GARDINER — When the Money Metropolis Improv actors took their ultimate bows March 26 at Johnson Hall in downtown Gardiner, their performances turned the remaining acts in the present-day chapter of the historic opera house.

This thirty day period marks the start off of the very long-awaited renovation of the accomplishing arts center at 280 H2o St. that is possible to preserve the theater closed for at minimum 18 months.

“It was awesome — packed house, excellent time,” Michael Miclon, Johnson Hall’s Government Artistic Director, said previous week. “But it was just bizarre to consider we’re not performing one more clearly show in right here until the theater is completed.”

And when the curtain rises on the next performance, it will be in the 400-seat higher theater that is to be rebuilt as part of the Johnson Hall’s reconstruction project. The theater’s rehabilitation is also to contain an addition of a significant foyer and concession space, a total-service box business office, access that satisfies specifications of the Americans with Disabilities Act, an elevator to serve all three flooring and green rooms for the checking out functions. The studio theater on the ground flooring, which has been house to the latest performances, is also to obtain an update.

This thirty day period marks the commence of comprehensive renovations to the Johnson Corridor Doing Arts Heart at 280 H2o St. in downtown Gardiner, photographed above in July 2021. The legendary facility is envisioned to be closed for at minimum 18 months. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

“We have been wanting forward to the get started of the Johnson Corridor renovation challenge for far more than 30 yrs,” Gardiner Mayor Pat Hart stated Friday. “Over those people decades, many people and enterprises have been good patrons, volunteers, donors and supporters of Johnson Corridor and the arts in Gardiner.”

Gardiner Mayor Pat Hart speaks for the duration of a Gardiner Metropolis Council goal-location session Feb. 1, 2020, at the Gardiner General public Library. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Hart and Melissa Lindley, Government Director of Gardiner Main Road, the group responsible for generating and sustaining a vibrant downtown community, stated that when the renovation is finished, the carrying out arts heart is predicted to be an economic driver for the town in southern Kennebec County.

“People are heading to be coming to Gardiner in waves, normally,” Lindley reported. “We’ll be acquiring people today from further more absent. The course of the displays is heading to be attracting new persons and putting Gardiner on the map.”

Individuals persons are very likely to invest time at Gardiner’s retailers and try to eat at its eating places, Lindley mentioned, and see Gardiner up near, perhaps for the first time.

Early last 7 days, volunteers cleared out the theater’s workplaces to prepare for development and crews this 7 days are to eliminate remaining particles before turning the setting up in excess of to constructions personnel.

“The 1st factor they will do is take away the proscenium,” he reported. “That’s the a single historic piece.”

The proscenium is a framework that generates a body on the stage for the scenery and performers.

A tiny team will delicately get it down, shop it in crates and eliminate it from the development website just before nearly anything else in the creating transpires.

As building schedules continue to be determined with Ganneston Design Corp. of Augusta, the building manager on the undertaking, Miclon, has been functioning on arranging Johnson Hall’s Waterfront Concert Collection.

Ordinarily, the summertime period has been 10 months extensive, with reveals on Friday evenings. This calendar year, Miclon mentioned, the year has been lengthened by a week.

The roster of acts booked features quite a few that have not performed at the waterfront right before, like the Unfinished Blues Band, The Boneheads and the Rough Conclude Spring Band.

For the reason that the complete developing will be closed in the course of development, Miclon has been functioning on the 2022-23 season, not only lining up functions, but also locating sites for them to complete.

He said he has manufactured arrangements with the Lifetime Group Church at 46 Church St. to host some performances. The Blind Pig Tavern at 266 Water St., across Dearborn Park from the theater, is to host Johnson Hall’s comedy displays at its perform house. And after development is completed afterwards this 12 months at the Boys & Women Golf equipment of Kennebec Valley at 14 Pray St., some performances are to be held there.

In the meantime, theater officials stated they go on to increase cash to meet a fundraising purpose that has been subject matter to inflationary pressures in the design sector.


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