With the financial support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council Cultural Facilities Fund and the Easthampton Community Preservation Act, CitySpace is beginning the first phase of a multi-million-dollar project to restore Easthampton Old Town Hall, the majestic brick building centrally located in the city’s downtown, as a center for the arts.
The $511,000 first phase, a portion of the total $6.9 million restoration, will prepare the building’s air systems for energy-efficient use, add new HVAC systems, and upgrade the historic building’s electrical system. Phasing the project will provide system upgrades and prepare the building for its next phase: completing the renovation of a 3500-square-foot, 350-seat arts and entertainment venue equipped with theatrical lighting, sound and projection systems, flexible staging and seating, and full accessibility.
“This is not a new project; it’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time. I consider it the single most important, impactful project this city has going forward for economic development … I’m excited that we are starting it,” Easthampton City Councilor Dan Rist said at a Community Preservation Act Committee meeting in November. The committee and Easthampton’s City Council unanimously voted to push forward $255,576 of reserved funding.
“This is not a new project; it’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time. I consider it the single most important, impactful project this city has going forward for economic development … I’m excited that we are starting it.”
CitySpace originally intended to build the $6.9 million project in one stage. However, this past summer, the organization explored the option of phasing the building project with the help of Kuhn Riddle Architects of Amherst, and found that dividing the scope of work was feasible. Other than the addition of an energy-recovery ventilator, the infrastructure improvements entirely reflect the established 2018 architectural plans created for the rehabilitation project.
In 2019, CitySpace was awarded $200,000 from the Massachusetts Cultural Council through its Cultural Facilities Fund in support of the restoration of the Old Town Hall. In collaboration with MassDevelopment, the Cultural Facilities Fund provides important funding for capital projects of creative spaces, “in recognition of their profound economic impact on communities across Massachusetts,” according to the council’s website. These funds will go toward this project located in Easthampton’s Main Street corridor, with an expected ripple effect to the region’s businesses.
“The incomparable support of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MassDevelopment, the Easthampton Community Preservation Act Committee, and the generosity of our Western Massachusetts friends, neighbors, and businesses is why we are able to make these infrastructure improvements,” said Burns Maxey, president of the board of CitySpace. “This project will have extraordinary impacts on our economy while providing affordability and access to space for the arts and people in our region. I am so thrilled to see this project begin.”
The infrastructure improvements are expected to be completed by the end of 2022. Subsequently, with funding secured by the end of 2022 for phase 2, construction is planned to begin in 2023.
To date, more than $4 million in grants and contributions have been received for the $6.9 million project. Most recently, the Mabel Louise Riley Foundation awarded CitySpace $100,000 in support of the project’s second phase, creating the 350-seat space for performances, concerts, and community events. Besides seating, lighting, and sound, renovations also will include a new box office, elevator, and entryway. CitySpace is seeking further support for the project and has naming opportunities available.
“As we embark on this year, momentum is building to complete this campaign,” Maxey said. “The incredible support from the Mabel Louise Riley Foundation is a windfall for CitySpace and our upcoming plans for Old Town Hall. We are so very thankful.”
CitySpace is a nonprofit that serves to restore, preserve, and manage Easthampton Old Town Hall as a center for the arts. Old Town Hall was built in 1869.