Posted: December 4, 2014
By ROBERT KOCH, Hour Staff Writer
NORWALK — If all goes according to schedule, restoration of the former Globe Theater on Wall Street to its former historic grandeur will begin in earnest early next year.
Environmental remediation of the century-old building at 71 Wall St. wrapped up in October, and actual restoration work will start in January, according to developer Frank Farricker.
“All the asbestos, mold, all the icky stuff is done,” Farricker said. “We have a contractor standing by, (construction) bonds are in place, subcontractors are awaiting, and equipment is ready to be ordered. As soon as these last little bits are done, boom, off to the races.”On Thursday, Farricker and Wall Street Theater Co. Executive Director Bob Kennedy gave The Hour a tour of the inside of the historic structure in downtown Norwalk.
Wall Street Theater Co., a not-for-profit organization formed to refurbish the former Globe Theater, purchased the property in January, and announced commencement of work in March.
Farricker and Kennedy hope to see the restoration work completed and the theater reopened to the public in late September 2015 — exactly a century after it first opened as a vaudeville venue.
“Sept. 24 of next year is the 100th anniversary of the original opening of the theater,” Kennedy said. “You get one chance at (meeting that date), so it would be great if we could do it.”
The project will convert the theater building, which was built in 1914, into “the first next-generation theater in Connecticut to provide theater enthusiasts with a true transmedia experience, igniting seamless storytelling across multiple media channels,” according to Wall Street Theater Co.
So far, moldy carpeting has been removed, exposing wooden or concrete flooring. Farricker concedes that plenty of carpentry work lies ahead once restoration commences next year.
In the main auditorium, wall coverings have been pulled away to expose the intricate paintings on the proscenium and the original redbrick walls at the sides.
“Look at all the stuff that was just hidden behind,” said Farricker, pointing at the areas of the walls that once housed opera boxes. “There used to be balconies in there and opera boxes over there. We’re bringing them back.”
Likewise, wall murals will be restored.
Many such “surprises” were uncovered during the abatement work as were artifacts from the building’s past. Those include a dusty ledger that was used by a barbershop that rented space within the theater in the 1940s.
Several sources of funding will be used to complete the estimated $7.5 million project. They include a $1.5 million state grant used to purchase the property, a $1.667 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) loan, and a loan from Patriot Bank.
On Thursday evening, members of the Common Council’s Planning Committee received an update on the HUD loan application. The application has been conditionally approved, according to Norwalk Redevelopment Agency officials.