The former Bangor Fire Station No. 6 has been transformed over the past few months into the Theatre Factory, a place for Penobscot Theatre Co. to create the sets and costumes necessary to stage productions, and they will open the facility at 14 Griffin Road for a public viewing Aug. 24.
The Penobscot Theatre Co. purchased the building in December 2014 for $225,000. Renovations to the facility are transforming what was the fire truck bay into a scene shop, with space to store set pieces and furniture. In addition, the former firemen barracks are being converted into living quarters for three apprentices.
“It’s a beautiful space, and the functionality is amazing,” Mary Budd, executive director of the Penobscot Theatre Co., said. “To have seen what it was previously, it’s just night and day.”
A new costume shop, “The Pink Room,” is located at the back of the building. A personal gift from patron Hope Hutchins Benton, a longtime supporter of the theater, helped this room come to life.
“It will be ‘pinkified’ in the coming weeks. She gave us a lot of room to be fun and creative and whimsical,” Budd said.
Fundraising began in March, and the renovation has been a community effort, with local sponsors and donors supporting the project’s completion. The theatre estimated the project cost at $284,000, including the building purchase. Code requirements added an additional $20,000 to that estimate.
A $75,000 grant from The Mimi Foundation of Dead River Co. and grants from C. Walder Parke Family Foundation, the Maine Theatre Fund and the Margaret Burnham Charitable Trust contributed to the successful renovation of the former firehouse. Bangor law firm Rudman Winchell pledged funds toward the project as well, and Machias Savings Bank financed the purchase.
“We literally could not produce the seven ambitious plays and musicals we’ve planned to stage at the Bangor Opera House in the coming year without offsite space to build our sets and costumes and house the young talent we need to support our production team,” artistic director Bari Newport said in a news release from the theater. “We are humbled by the community’s rapid response.”
Grant awards, pledges and gifts totaled more than $300,000. The company expects to pay off the project by 2017.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony, private building tour and reception are being hosted for the media and project donors at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24, after which the Theatre Factory will open to the public at 6 p.m. Patrons are encouraged to the tour building. Tours only will be available by invitation thereafter.
“I hope they see the full scope of what we do. Many people may not know how we differ from performing arts organizations in other regions. We produce all of our work and that means we craft everything,” Budd said. “It’s all the behind-the-scenes magic-making.”