.......Scenic Seating Chart ......Stage floor plan
The current building that houses the Scenic Theatre was built in 1914. The original structure, which burned the same year, was the home of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic, Civil War Veterans) and thus much of the memorabilia and history of Pittsfield's participation in the Civil War was lost. The structure the GAR rebuilt was what the Pittsfield Historical Association describes as "Colonial Revival Style" and was the first commercial building to have a slanted floor for the watching of the new motion pictures. When the membership and number of survivng Civil War veterans declined, the building was sold in 1925 to the American Legion, thus housing on it's upper floors patriotic organizations for about another decade. About this same time, the lower floor was named "The Liberty Theatre" and continued to show movies. It was in 1937 that the building was again sold and renamed "The Scenic Theatre" where movies were shown unti 1991. The theatre is currently part of the Historic Walking Trail.
Since almost about the time the Pittsfield Players were started, the Scenic Theatre has been an intregal part of its success. The Players, who rehearsed in several locations (and many of them unheated), would rent for the week of each of their shows, the theatre from owners Arthur and Vaulien Dame. In addition, their property right next door was a hair salon, and that too became an ideal spot to apply makeup and serve as a haven for actors before their trek onto the stage. In the early years a make-shift stage had to be constructed, but as attendance wained at the theatre, it was possible for the players to keep a stage year-round in front of the theatre screen, and house the lighting system.
In 1991 the Dame's retired, closing the theatre and offering the sale of the building to the Pittsfield Players. It was a big decision to go from a simple amateur theater group to property owners, but the decision was made and the Scenic had new owners and the Players an official residence. With the use of donated space directly across the street, the players were able to rebuild the stage and begin increasing the number of offerings and performances. The building needed extensive work, and the work began. The exterior needed siding all around, and funds were raised to do one side at a time.
The old steam heating system ate up considerable funds and finally had to be replaced all together. More recently the mezzanine was adapted to a lighting booth; lobby areas have been repainted; the tin ceiling of the main theater has been painted, ceiling fans installed , and lighting revamped; the walls have been covered with fabric and new molding; the floor has been stripped and varnished; and finally new seating has been installed. Two years ago with the help of an LCHIP grant, the historic front facade of the building was also redone. This was immediately followed by the replacement of the leaky roof last year.
However, every time we appear to be making progress, something else major requires attention. Already strained with the cost of the roof replacement and everyday maintenance, we are now under orders of the fire department to add a second means of egress from the second floor. Thus the Players once again are in need of the help of all their friends and supporters to raise the financing needed to keep the renovations going. If you would like to help with the preservation of this historic Pittsfield site, please contact any of the Board of Directors. Any contribution large or small will be greatly appreciated. [photo to left 1995, photo to right 1990]
Dee Dee Pitcher and the Dames ink the transfer and sale of the Scenic Theatre to the Pittsfield Players, May 17, 1991.