By Rachel Phillips
Over a century after it was first built, the Park Theater in Glens Falls will soon re-open its doors to a new generation of audiences.
Elizabeth Miller, CEO of Miller Mechanical Services Inc. in Glens Falls, purchased the building in 2014 with the hope of restoring the space as a multi-functional community venue and theater.
She said the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls “is a wonderful venue for a number of types of entertainment. I certainly don’t want to compete with it. The Park Theater is set up as a different venue. It has the opportunity to host a variety of functions and has a different feel to it.”
When the theater opened in 1911, it served as a Vaudeville, silent movie theater, with rigged seats. Those seats were removed in order to make the space more versatile.
Keeping with the building’s original purpose, Park Theater will still show movies, but will also be able to host stage productions, musical performances, improv workshops, comedy shows, seminars, dance recitals, weddings and more.
Additionally, the theater has a restaurant on the first floor. Miller said she would like for the theater and restaurant to collaborate, by offering catering options at special events, or potentially by offering discounted meals with the purchase of tickets.
The restaurant is named Doc’s, after Dr. Harold Kirkpatrick, who saved the building from destruction during the urban development of Glens Falls in the 1980s. He worked to restore it until his death in 2014.
“I always loved the look of the building,”
said Miller. “There’s many buildings in our community with great architectural detail. I’ve always admired the history and structure of older buildings, and the Park Theater just looked like a building that needed to be saved.”
Miller has cut no corners in the restoration of the theater. The new sound system, lighting, and technology incorporated in the building are all state-of-the-art, to provide the best possible experience for audiences.
Also working closely on the project are the executive director of the theater, Susan Siplon, and managing director Bridget Dunigan.
According to Siplon, the theater’s renewal will be a key factor in the revitalization of Glens Falls. Not only will the venue’s unique properties provide limitless potential for the types of events that can be hosted there, but its location also has the potential to draw more business to downtown.
The theater “is going to be a great addition to this town, not only for the arts we will bring in but for the opportunities for the business community to rent the space for meetings, conferences, luncheons, speakers, fundraisers and parties,” said Siplon.
It is her hope that people from outside Glens Falls will be drawn in by the shows and events.
Upon completion, the theater will have 225 seats on the second floor, and the restaurant will seat 70 to 80.
The theater portion is set to be complete in February, with the restaurant planned to be complete in March.