Inside Holyoke’s Victory Theater
The historic Victory Theater in Holyoke has new owners and is on track for a grand reopening in 2012.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
By Mark Roessler
Photo By Mark Roessler
The stage of the Victory Theater seen from the balcony.
Last September, the Holyoke City Council unanimously voted to hand ownership of the Victory Theater over to the not-for-profit Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA), a group that hopes to reopen the building, which has stood derelict since 1979.
MIFA has in hand more than half the estimated $27 million it will take to revive the theater. It’s working closely with Nessen Associates and the Architectural Heritage Foundation on marketing and acquiring the necessary tax incentives and grants. With those resources, MIFA hopes to complete the extensive renovations required and open the curtains again on December 30, 2012.
Holyoke once had seven theaters, including a 3,000-seat circular opera house that predated the old Metropolitan in New York City. Many of the greatest opera singers of the day said it was the finest such theater in America. It survived until the early 1960s.
Still standing is the Victory Theater on the corner of Suffolk and Chestnut streets, built by the Goldstein Brothers Amusement Company in 1920. The brothers, Nathan and Samuel, were responsible for many of the largest and most magnificent theaters in Western Massachusetts, including the Calvin in Northampton, the Garden in Greenfield, the Paramount in Springfield, the Mohawk in North Adams, the Casino in Ware, and the Colonial in Pittsfield, to name a few. The Victory, though, was considered the flagship of the company. The business had begun elsewhere in Holyoke, but after building across the Valley, they wanted the best for their home city.
“The best” included sweeping stairways of Vermont marble leading up to the immense, double-tiered balcony, the rare Brazilian mahogany paneling that lines the walls, and windows on the second floor made by Tiffany. Silk paneling on the walls was likely made at the Skinner silk factory in Holyoke. On either side of the stage are two giant paintings done by renowned Works Progress Administration (WPA) muralist Vincent Maragliotti that represent different aspects of the theme “victory.”