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Thursday, May 16 • 8:30am - 9:00am
(Architecture) The Latchis Theater: Planning the Conservation and Restoration of an Art Deco Masterpiece in Brattleboro, Vermont

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On September 22, 2018, the remarkable Latchis Hotel and Theater, in Brattleboro, Vermont, celebrated its eightieth anniversary. It is a large and beautiful Art Deco building, keyed seamlessly into a restrained and historic northern New England town of nineteenth-century buildings. The complex and multi-spaced theater- - -still a movie palace- - -has 1,200 seats. It has become more vibrant over time, thanks to Latchis Arts, a non-profit umbrella organization with wide community support.

The Latchis was created by the Latchis family, Greek immigrants who developed a chain of beautiful movie theaters in New England in the 1930s. Only the Latchis Theater survives. It is a remarkable inter-active homage to ancient Greece, re-born in Vermont through an Art Deco prism. The lobby is the portal to this enchanted realm of classical architecture, starry nights, lapis-blue skies, mythic mural paintings, and faux-mosaic floors. A faux-ashlar masonry courtyard, replete with a nymph fountain, leads to the main theater. It is a fantastical and over-scaled Agora, crowned with a night sky of constellations, ancient statuary, and classical architecture on all of the four walls. Monumental mural paintings of Greek myths, the creation of Hungarian painter Louis Jambor (1884-1955), intersect the faux architecture.

The interior of the Latchis is best understood as a huge and complex work of art created from as many as forty different elements. Each element is made from different materials, which have aged differently over time and sustained varying degrees of damage and ill-advised restorations. Latchis Arts is committed to a project whose goal is the return of the Latchis to its original appearance. Realization of this goal will be based on returning each element to its original appearance.

This will be a large, complex and costly project whose success will be determined during the planning phase and by creation of a programmatic planning document. The planning document will need to address the conservation and restoration of as many as 40 different elements. This is the foundation of the project, the basis upon which cost estimating for treatments, insurance, scaffolding, legal exigencies, and effective outreach to donors and the public will rest.

This paper will present an overview of the outstanding interior decoration of the Latchis Theater and describe the current planning program. It will focus on the how to define and apply due diligence and duty of care when planning this type of complex and costly interior restoration project,

avatar for Jon Potter

Jon Potter

Executive Director, Latchis Arts, Inc.
Jon Potter is the Executive Director of Latchis Arts, Inc., and Latchis Corporation, the two entities that own, operate and steward the Latchis Memorial Building in Brattleboro, Vt. Prior to taking the position at the Latchis five years ago, he was a journalist for more than 20 years... Read More →

Constance Silver

Professional Associate, Conservation of Cultural Property and Historic Preservation
Constance S. Silver is a fine arts and architectural conservator. She was the principal of Preservart, Inc. for 23 years, an award-winning company that undertook major conservation and historic preservation projects in the United States and internationally. She has published widely... Read More →

Thursday May 16, 2019 8:30am - 9:00am EDT
Salon A1, Uncas Ballroom Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun
  Specialty Session, Architecture