(Simsbury, CT – April 12, 2011) – Connecticut Main Street Center has announced the selection of The Nancy Marine Studio Theatre, part of the Warner Theatre’s Performing Arts Center in Downtown Torrington, as the site of the organization’s 2011 Awards Gala. The event will be held on Monday, June 6th at 5:00 pm. A “Welcome to Main Street” reception will be followed by the presentation of awards in the Studio Theatre.
Built by Warner Brothers Studios and opened in 1931 as a movie palace, the Warner Theatre was described then as “Connecticut’s Most Beautiful Theatre”. The theatre was sold in the 1950’s as part of a federally mandated divestment and damaged extensively in the 1955 Flood. With business declining, the invention of television and expenses soaring through the 1960’s and 1970’s, deferred maintenance began to take its toll. Facing certain foreclosure in 1981, the owners closed the Warner and put the property on the market for $275,000. With the theatre slated for demolition in 1982, a concerned group of citizens formed the non-profit Northwest Connecticut Association for the Arts, Inc. to save the theatre. This group led a dramatic grass-roots campaign successfully raising the money necessary to purchase the Warner Theatre. The shared vision of those individuals is the foundation for the A Star is Reborn Campaign to restore and expand the Warner Theatre. The Warner reopened as a performing arts center in 1983, but restoration was not completed until November 23, 2002. The gala reopening was celebrated by thousands of citizens throughout Litchfield County.
Nancy Marine Studio Theatre
Originally one of the oldest continuously operating department stores in the country, the historic Mertz building in downtown Torrington was purchased in 2002 with the hopes of being transformed into a performing arts center and augmenting the existing Warner complex. After six years of planning and fundraising, the building was renamed the Carole and Ray Neag Performing Arts Center (after Torrington natives Carole and Ray Neag who donated $1 million towards the project) in May 2008. The building is home to the state-of-the-art, 300-seat black-box style Nancy Marine Studio Theatre (named after a patron of the arts whose family generously donated the original site of the Studio Theatre at 69 Main Street) and the Warner’s on-site school for the arts, the Warner Theatre Center for Arts Education, including classrooms, rehearsal studios, private practice rooms, locker rooms, a dance hall and a media center.
Connecticut Main Street Center annually selects outstanding examples of restoration, rehabilitation and adaptive re-use, as well as complementary new construction for its Awards Gala. Previous venues include the Vernon Senior Center in Rockville, The Artists Collective in the Upper Albany Neighborhood of Hartford, The Palace Theater and Waterbury Arts Magnet School in Downtown Waterbury, The Crocker House in Downtown New London, The Gilson Café & Cinema in Winsted, The Wauregan in Downtown Norwich, Eno Memorial Hall in Simsbury, and The Barnum Museum and Playhouse on the Green in Bridgeport.
The Connecticut Main Street Center Awards Gala has become the highlight of the year for both the state organization and award-winning Connecticut Main Street Communities selected through a competitive process. This year’s winners will be announced in early May as part of National Preservation Month observances. Governor Malloy will present Citations from the State of Connecticut to award winning Main Street projects and individuals.
Webster Bank is the “Welcome to Main Street” reception sponsor. Additional Awards Gala sponsors include The United Illuminating Company, Connecticut Natural Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, Pitney Bowes, CEDAS, Colliers Dow & Condon, Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPTV & WNPR), Yale University, Connecticut Economic Resource Center and Corporation for Independent Living.