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Show Time for The Park Theater in New Hampshire

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Show Time for The Park Theater in New Hampshire

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Caroline Hollister loves her hometown. A resident of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, Caroline has devoted much of her nearly 80 years of living to making life better for others in her small New England community. A relentless participant in countless community organizations, Caroline has been a perennial volunteer at the Jaffrey Civic Center, served as a historian to the local American Legion Auxiliary Unit, and as the Executive Director for the State Department’s international business exchange program. She has been a member of various civic boards, supervised the Town’s voter checklist, and helped a wide range of business, economic, and regional catalysts like Arts Alive! and Team Jaffrey, the town’s downtown revitalization committee. Among her public-facing accomplishments, none embodies her altruistic spirit and flair for the dramatic better than the recently recreated Park Theater in downtown Jaffrey.
“The original Park Theater first opened in 1922 and quickly became the center of community life as a movie house and vaudeville theater for nearly 60 years,” says Hollister, who fondly recalls the days when a quarter was enough for a movie ticket and a box of popcorn. “The theater was built by a local man in the barn behind his farmhouse. People came from all around to enjoy a show every day and twice on Sundays.”
Despite its success as a community touchstone, the original Park Theater fell on hard times in the early 1970s and eventually closed and sold in 1976. It functioned as a retail store and warehouse for more than a decade before being repositioned as the back end of a bicycle repair business and frame-makers shop. In 2002 when a group of interested citizens approached the then-owner about purchasing and rehabilitating the site to its former glory, the seeds of the Park Theater revitalization were planted.
“I was approached to join The Park Theater Corporation in early 2005,” says Hollister of her initial involvement. “I had no idea what that meant. I thought we would decide which movies to show and what performances to book, so I joined. By June of 2006, we had raised more than a hundred thousand dollars to secure the property. However, we quickly found out during the building inspection that the structure was not really a good candidate for rehabilitation. It needed to be razed and replaced altogether.”
Once the prospect of renovating the nearly 200-year-old barn and farmhouse into a code-compliant, ADA accessible, 21st Century movie theater was recognized as an impossibility, the task at hand grew immensely. As the cost estimates for replacing the theater with a completely new building began to come in, it was clear to Hollister and everyone else involved that they were going to need some additional help raising enough money to foot the bill for reconstruction.
“At that point, we hired a professional fundraiser who had lots of wonderful, creative ways to boost donations,” says Hollister. “One of the projects she proposed was a collection of sponsorship stars integrated into the lobby floor akin to the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. We loved the idea and approached our architects about how to make it happen.”
Matt Pelletier is an Associate with BKA Architects, the Boston-based firm hired to design the new Park Theater. He has been with BKA for his entire 21-year career. Starting at a designer-level position after graduating from college and working his way through the ranks, Matt is now integrated into the firm’s management structure. BKA strives to help organizations like The Park Theater Corporation succeed by providing innovative solutions to the challenges of the built environment through purposeful, value-driven design solutions.
“BKA’s involvement in the project began around 2008,” says Pelletier of the project. “It’s not often that we take on a design commission that lasts for more than a decade. Through the many iterations, the donor stars remained prominently important to the overall aesthetic of the building’s entrance. When the time came to realize that promise, we knew it needed to be something special.”
Something special started with a call to Premier Concrete Construction, LLC of Wilton, NH. Owner, Eric Traffie, grew up in masonry and migrated to concrete as a twenty-year-old. He founded Premier in the summer of 2000 in response to the strong local demand for high-end concrete options. As a Bomanite licensed contractor, Premier has earned a reputation for quality and creativity through a deep profile of services including stamped, stained, and polished concrete, previous concrete, and a whole host of surface-applied decorative toppings.
“Decorative concrete is constantly evolving,” says Traffie of the nearly endless possibilities of Bomanite products in the hands of a network of skilled contractors across the country. “We fill a niche in our regional market by offering products and services that no one else can. Those fantastic fundraising stars on that beautiful floor at the Park Theater are an excellent example of what we can do.”
The initial design request from BKA was an exposed, polished concrete floor with the stars seamlessly integrated into the surface. After touring the site, the team met at Premier’s showroom to see and touch samples of customized Modena by Bomanite, which is aesthetically similar to terrazzo. An engineered interior cementitious topping, Modena is blended with the client’s choice of hand-selected aggregates, which are poured, ground, and polished to desired gloss level.
“Ms. Hollister originally wasn’t sure the vision for these stars was possible,” continues Traffie. “The system we proposed was a combination of Modena for the stars and integrally colored Bomanite Renaissance using a very deep black we developed specifically for this project called Raven Carbon Black.”
In a multi-step process, first, the main volume of Bomanite Renaissance was poured with custom-made star molds inset into the floor as finish-level construction started. Once the bulk of the theater’s finishes were installed several months later, Premier returned to the site, removed the place-holder molds, and installed the customized Modena stars.
“We started with a challenging but achievable design objective from the client and ended up with a stunning solution for a very high-end, customized floor that will honor donors for generations to come,” says Traffie of the finished product.
Hollister agrees and shares her delight succinctly.
“Being involved in the design and realization of this theater has been a wonderful experience,” she says enthusiastically. “So many people supported this project. We can all take pride in being ordinary people coming together to accomplish something extraordinary.”

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