Laconia, NH

found5dollar

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I find myself in the Laconia area pretty often for work so thought I would start a thread for it. I was up there about a week ago to check out the newly renovated Colonial Theater. Built in 1914 it was apparently billed as "The most beautiful theater north of Boston" at the time. The magnificent Main Drape painted with a scene of Venice has been saved but is unfortunately dead hung at the moment due to cost, so it can't be flown in. In the 80's the theater was turned into a five screen movie theater and most of the detail was covered up by false walls but not destroyed. It closed for good in 2002 and reopens this year. The historic renovation, particularly all the paint work, is absolutely incredible. I'm a little hesitant about the overall concept of opening this theater up again as there are already multiple large concert and theater venues in the area, including the Lakeport Opera House which is another historic space reopening this year in Laconia, but the history and memory of this particular theater right in downtown may push it ahead of the rest.

Pictures from before the renovation can be found here.

Pictures from last week by me:
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MrDee12345

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It's stunning. I have to wonder why they wouldn't consider using it as a cinema on nights it doesn't have a big show.
 

Stlin

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It's stunning. I have to wonder why they wouldn't consider using it as a cinema on nights it doesn't have a big show.
They might; its barely reopened since it's renovation; very few paying butts have sat in any of those seats yet. Art house films just might not pay the bills.
 

fatnoah

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It's stunning. I have to wonder why they wouldn't consider using it as a cinema on nights it doesn't have a big show
Funny that you should say that. The Colonial is where I saw The Empire Strikes Back as a child, when the theater was in its incarnation as a single-screen moving theater. It was later chopped up into a 5 screen theater.

RANT
A few folks I know that have attended a show at the theater raved about the renovation, so hopefully it can keep up momentum. I think that theater is key to a hopeful mini-renaissance for a downtown that was massacred by urban renewal, who's main triumphs were creating massive parking lots, eliminating Main St. as a through street, and building multi lane roads to direct traffic AROUND downtown businesses.
/RANT
 

found5dollar

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Funny that you should say that. The Colonial is where I saw The Empire Strikes Back as a child, when the theater was in its incarnation as a single-screen moving theater. It was later chopped up into a 5 screen theater.

RANT
A few folks I know that have attended a show at the theater raved about the renovation, so hopefully it can keep up momentum. I think that theater is key to a hopeful mini-renaissance for a downtown that was massacred by urban renewal, who's main triumphs were creating massive parking lots, eliminating Main St. as a through street, and building multi lane roads to direct traffic AROUND downtown businesses.
/RANT
I'd say downtown was already in a mini renaissance before the Colonial re-opened. Most store fronts are full now and a few destination stores have opened. Burrito me, Wayfair Coffee Rosters, even the Laconia Antique center have become large tourist and local draws. There is WAY to much parking down there but they use the parking lots for farmers markets, festivals, and other events. My hope is that with the Colonial reopening some of the parking lots can be turned into housing with store fronts to fill in some of the missing teeth.
 

found5dollar

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was back up in Downtown Laconia for a few days and, this is so weird to say, it is actually turning into something really cool. there are some great restaurants, an amazing coffee place, a craft beer bar with a vinyl record shop attached, and some nicely recently renovated buildings with galleries and shops. i only saw two or three empty store fronts!

here are a few of the building down there

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The colonial with it's new marquee and the old Bloom's Variety next door


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A former church, recently renovated into a theater for the group Recycled Percussion. I have absolutly no idea what this groups business model is becasue.... this is alot...

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the old train station recently got its central space occupied by "Rail bike adventures" a bike rental place that also rents bikes that run on the disused rail like that runs between Weirs Beach and downtown.

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other recently renovated buildings with bakeries, one of the most amazing coffee shops I've been to, and other small stores and services.

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Canal Street has always been the artsy area but it now has a new frame shop, multipurpose spaces attached to the Colonial, a new sushi place, and a few other restaurants.

the Lakeport area is also undergoing a renaissance with another renovated theater and restaurants. ill save pics of that for next time i go up.
 

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