As a resident of the Nor thern Berkshire community, I have had the pleasure of watching the city of North Adams grow and prosper throughout the last 10 years.
Upon the development of Mass MoCA and the Porches Inn, North Adams instantly became an attraction to tour ists similar to those who had always been known to frequent only South County activities such as Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow. Taxpayers, such as Glen Maloney, joined forces with other locals to plant flower gardens on Main Street and turn our crosswalks into works of art. Jonathan Secor, along with Mary Grant from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, have expanded their campus to Main Street with a program entitled DownStreet Art, which turns available storefronts into working galleries for students and locals.
I am incredibly proud of North Adams for all they have accomplished and encourage them to now take their downtown and this wonderful city to the next level by properly renovating one of Main Street’s great treasures, the Mohawk Theater, with the grandeur the residents and professionals of North Adams envisioned when this process began.
Built as a movie theater in 1938, the Mohawk Theater boasted 1,200 seats and an impressive 25-foot proscenium. It remained in operation until 1991 and sat vacant for years until the citizens of North Adams, seeing the possibilities of the space, moved to renovate the structure as opposed to demolishing it. Since then,
Originally seen as a complete performing arts center, the new Mohawk was to offer residents and visitors with meeting rooms, private classrooms and top-of-the-line finishing touches. It had the capability to put the city of North Adams on the global map as a sought after tourist destination.
Over the years, sacrifices have been made to the project. Instead of negotiating with contractors to bring final costs down and seeking large corporate and private donations to raise the necessary capital to complete our original vision, we have cut the attributes which will make the Mohawk Theater an American icon.
I encourage Mayor Alcombright and the city of North Adams to work hand in hand with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to apply for educational, historic and community grants to raise the funds needed to complete this renovation with the grandeur and capability originally sought by residents in 1999.
Upon completion, the new Mohawk Theater will put North Adams and Massa chusetts College of Liberal Arts on the map on an international level, bringing more tourists to our city and more students to our college. It will promote the increased use of Main Street during evening hours, which will contribute to the future growth of the economic development of our local businesses and our wonderful community.
Jessica E. Lesure
The author is a business/arts management student at MCLA.