Wednesday, March 24, 2010
What Will Gardiner Become
My vision of Gardiner becoming a destination for arts and culture isn't just a pipe dream. Sitting right in the middle of our downtown is Johnson Hall, an Italianate brick structure built in 1864. In its heyday it held 1200 people for dances and entertainment of all sorts. It was converted to a theatre when the talkies came along in 1929. It fell into disrepair in the 1950's and in 1987 is was purchased by a group looking to restore it.
Johnson Hall has been working to design the restoration that will turn Johnson Hall back into a hall that would house a 400 seats performance space and business and community meeting space. I have toured the space several times and when it is renovated the space will be incredible. With a 400 seat auditorium, Gardiner will be able to attract a wide variety of music, theatre and film. Of course they still need to raise a great deal of money to be able to move forward. They will qualify for tax credits for historic renovation and that will help. I am hoping it will only be a couple of years before construction begins.
I am imagining a very lively downtown with thriving businesses (including my own). We need more people with vision to invest in the downtown. There are great historic buildings available. Sure they need some work but the prices are reasonable ... compared to what they will be when we are drawing 400 people to town for performances!
Gardiner Main Street has organized a Commercial Real Estate Open House for this Saturday 11-3 to show off the great properties we have here.