Friday, November 30, 2012

B.U. Preservation Masters Thesis Jump-Starts Everett Square Theatre Feasibility Study



HBI has been benefitted in recent years from a strong relationship with students in Boston University’s graduate program in historic preservation. HBI has provided internship opportunities for several students with the intent of giving the students a taste of “real world” preservation that is focused on real estate development. In return, students have provided much useful support to HBI and its projects.

Sarah Sadrakula, a BU student who interned at HBI during the fall of 2011, took this relationship one step further by deciding to transform a project on which she had worked at HBI into the subject of her master’s thesis—Hyde Park’s Everett Square Theatre.

As Sarah noted, “I am a self-professed history nerd. When I got the opportunity to turn my work with HBI and the Everett Square Theatre into my master’s thesis I was ecstatic. Little did I know it would lead me through a process that I never could have imagined.”

Part of Sarah’s thesis, which was completed this past September, was a very thorough documentation of the history of the building and its development, along with a careful architectural description and report on its existing condition. The remainder involved looking at several other similar theatre buildings in greater New England that are currently operating in order to see what others have done that might help create a successful model and business plan for the Everett Square Theatre.

Said Sarah, “My goal for the project was to figure out whether or not it was even feasible to renew the building and re-use it for its constructed purpose as a live stage and movie theatre. I contacted other theatres in the Boston area, did research on historic theatres, as well as demographic studies to find out if Hyde Park could support this space. And what I found was not surprising, not only is the theatre historically and culturally significant to Hyde Park, but it plays an important role in the community socially.”

Sarah got to know the local community as well as the building itself. “Throughout my research I was told by many residents how they remember attending the movies at the theatre as a child or as teens. No matter what the theatre’s name was, they could remember entering those front doors under a glowing marquee and sitting through an imaginary adventure with their favorite actors and actresses. Standing in the doorway to the auditorium, you can feel the history of the space and imagine it full of movie-goers. The space is full of possibility.”

In the end, Sarah was optimistic about the potential for the theatre to be rehabilitated into a working performing arts space. “Throughout working on the Everett Square Theatre project I have not only come to understand that the consistency of ownership and leadership in this project are critical to its success, but that the Hyde Park community is excited about this opportunity to recreate one of its most critical social anchors. I believe that with a constant vision and leadership, a good plan, and the maintenance of partnerships the Everett Square Theatre can become the performing arts center that it wants to be.”

Sarah’s work has already helped this project to advance, as HBI believes that it can form the basis of a new feasibility study to investigate physically and financially feasible plans to reuse the building. HBI is working with building owner—and the project’s chief advocate—Pat Tierney to put together a team to undertake this study, which we hope to begin by the end of this year.

In addition to thanking Sarah for her hard work on this important project, HBI would also like to congratulate her on her new position as Executive Director of Washington Main Street in the city of Washington, Iowa. Founded in 1839 and with a population of about 7,300, Washington is the County seat of Washington County and is about 30 miles south of Iowa City.

We wish Sarah the best of luck in her work in Washington, and want to thank her again for her efforts to advance our thinking about the future of Hyde Park’s Everett Square Theatre!

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