Chesterfield, VA — Swift Creek Mill Theatre to be renovated

ChesterfieldChesterfield, VA — Swift Creek Mill Theatre to be renovated
By Jim McConnell | Published by Chesterfield Observer
April 3, 2013

The owner of the Swift Creek Mill Theatre expects to begin construction next month on a major renovation of the historic building in southern Chesterfield.

Colonial Heights-based Roslyn Farm Corporation will spend approximately $1 million to build a two-story addition onto the rear of the existing structure, according to Jennifer Procise, the theater’s director of development and marketing.

The extra square footage will allow for relocation and modernization of the building’s kitchen, expansion of its bathrooms, HVAC upgrades and the installation of an elevator to improve access to second-floor theater seating.

Sprinklers will also be installed as a safety feature of the renovation, which is intended to bring the 350-year-old building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The 350-year-old building that houses the Swift Creek Mill Theatre has been designated as a historic landmark on the county, state and federal levels.

After the project is completed, the theater, which operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, will be eligible for both state and federal grants and its owner will be eligible for federal tax credits.

But Procise said the theater’s customers will benefit most from the changes.

“We have a very open line of communication with our subscriber base,”she said. “Many of them told us that they loved our plays, but they couldn’t subscribe this year because they couldn’t get up the stairs.”

The building that houses the Swift Creek Mill Theatre was erected as a gristmill in 1663 by Henry Randolph I. Widely believed to be the oldest gristmill in the United States, Swift Creek Mill changed hands many times and was used in various capacities until it ceased operations in 1956.

Swift Creek Mill is a Chesterfield County historic landmark and a Virginia Historical Landmark. It’s also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Because of the building’s historic significance, renovation requires far more than knocking down a wall or two. “We’ve strived to maintain the character of the mill,” said Nick Walker, marketing director for Roslyn Farm.
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