A historic photograph shows the Bijou Theatre, now known as the Pittsfield Community Theatre, in March 1972 along Main Street in Pittsfield. Credit: Courtesy of Pittsfield Historical Society

PITTSFIELD, Maine — Pittsfield town councilors decided this week to lower the price of the Pittsfield Community Theatre to $149,000, hoping to attract a buyer for the 106-year-old property.

Real estate agents from Skowhegan-based Allied Realty, who are working with the town, recommended reducing the price, Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said at Wednesday’s town council meeting.

“They have come up with that price from looking at other facilities that are similar to ours and other sales that have been in place,” she said.

The council voted in July 2020 to close the theater permanently and put the venue up for sale, a decision largely shaped by pandemic uncertainty and budget concerns. It hoped that reducing the price would snag a buyer and bring some business activity to the town.

Councilors tabled the decision to put the building up for sale twice as they awaited COVID-19 guidance from the state and gave the theater committee time to craft a plan for reopening.

The original sale price was $179,000.

A historic photograph shows the Bijou Theatre, now known as the Pittsfield Community Theatre, in 1955. Credit: Courtesy of Pittsfield Historical Society

“With all the restrictions taking place and the desperate need for social distancing, there was no way the theater could operate properly,” Ruth said Friday. “Movies were not coming out, either. It was unfortunate.”

Various ideas for the building’s future, such as a community center, an art center and a space for youth, have been suggested, Ruth said.

Although the town has seen potential buyers, nothing has come to fruition.

“All this excitement goes on and when they get in there and look around and see how much work needs to be done, they see the price and then they leave,” Ruth said during the meeting.

The theater originally opened as Leger’s Theatre in 1915 and screened silent movies, according to the Pittsfield Historical Society. Three years later, it became the Bijou Theatre and began offering movies with sound. Through the decades, different owners have purchased and managed the property. The town bought the theater for $24,000 in 1977.

During the meeting Wednesday, Ruth also updated councilors on several projects meant to improve the look and functionality of the town.

Route 11 near Main Street has new pavement. Some residents have called the town office, wondering why the pavement doesn’t cover the entire width of the road, Ruth said.

A historic photograph shows the Bijou Theatre, now known as the Pittsfield Community Theatre, in the 1940s. Credit: Courtesy of Pittsfield Historical Society

“It’s just on the travel lanes,” she said. “This pavement is to get the town by for the next two years while the Main Street project that is being put into place by the Maine Department of Transportation will be following all of its steps.”

Town councilors also agreed to a deal with JW Parks Golf Course, which is hiring a company from Athens to cut and remove some dying trees on its course. The golf course is also willing to cover the cost of cutting problematic trees along the recreational [Pittsfield] Rail Trail, which is adjacent to the golf course and owned by the town, Ruth said.

“There are dead pine trees as well as rotten white birch trees that are losing dead branches on the trail,” she said. “Most of the trees that were in the town’s right of way in that old Rail Trail are dead or dying, and eventually they will be a safety issue.”

Don Chute, the town’s public works officer, traveled to the site and marked 60 to 80 dying trees that will need to be removed in the coming years.

The partnership saves the town a lot of money, Ruth said. The tree cutting will take place this winter.