OPINION | Barry Richard: Strand Theater Rehab Project is Good for New Bedford
New Bedford was home to some wonderful old theaters. Oh, the hours I spent as a child at The Capitol, The Olympia, The New Bedford, The Baylies Square, The Empire and more. What treasures they were.
In 1982, new life was given to The Zeiterion Theater which first opened in 1923 as a Vaudeville theater. The "Z" is a jewel that serves as the centerpiece of the cultural revival of New Bedford. There has been talk of rehabbing The Capitol and The Orpheum, but nothing ever seems to come of it.
The Cape Verdean Association of New Bedford has owned the former Center Theater on Acushnet Avenue since 1992 and is working with The Waterfront Historic Area League to rehab the facility. Originally known as The Cordelia Vien Theater when it opened in the early 1900's, the theater was renamed The Strand in 1916 before becoming The Center in 1983.
Katherine Duff, who is handling the restoration project tells National Public Radio affiliate WCAI the building is in surprisingly good condition:
“To a certain extent, New Bedford suffered through some of that urban renewal, but we were also a relatively poor community, and so we didn’t lose a lot of our history because we didn’t experience a lot of that corporate investment and urban renewal that tore down a lot of our historic neighborhoods."
Preserving New Bedford's rich history is what makes it such a charming place to outside visitors and residents alike. Restoring The Center Theater helps to make New Bedford a cultural destination.
Read more about the restoration effort at the WCAI website: NPR WCAI
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.