Over the years, we have seen the Senator Theater in Baltimore battle mightily to protect this iconic American Treasure. In the final stages of decision, Tom Kiefaber and the Friends of the Senator Theater are asking YOU to take a moment to weigh in with the City of Baltimore to ensure that the best interests of this Great American Movie Palace are safeguarded.
Please read the three letters of support that follow. If you agree – please use the link http://citizenspeak.org/node/1955 and make YOUR voice heard! We CAN make a difference for the future of the Senator Theater!
A note from Tom:
As the former owner of the historic Senator Theatre in Baltimore, the leadership of the advocacy organization, The Friends of the Senator (FOTS),( www.friendsofthesenator.com ) asked that I forward this communication on their behalf.
FYI, from my perspective, these FOTS folks “get it” and they have self-organized and grown organically in the past few years to help The Senator evolve towards its bright, multi-purpose future in immeasurable ways.
They’ve also done their homework and understand the nature of the challenges ahead from an informed perspective. I believe that when The Senator Theatre eventually arrives at the safe harbor I was unable to reach for 25 years, which will preserve and protect the theatre for the future generations that are its real owners, it will be due in large part to the selfless efforts of the FOTS.
Sincerely, Tom Kiefaber
From The Friends of The Senator
Dear Friend of The Senator Theatre,
I’m Laura Perkins and I am writing on behalf of the Friends of The Senator (FOTS) group. This communication is not a fundraising solicitation.
I’m writing to ask you to take a moment of your time to help ensure that the upcoming decision that Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake will endorse regarding The Senator Theatre’s future direction will be a determination reached through the proactive involvement of experienced experts in the fields of historic theatre redevelopment and film exhibition.
The FOTS group and other prestigious historic preservation organizations, like The Theatre Historical Society of America (THSA), Baltimore Heritage, and Preservation Maryland are concerned that the Senator RFP process, being conducted under the auspices of the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC), has unfortunately gone awry and must be rectified. This must occur if The Senator is to be preserved and protected in perpetuity as a community-oriented resource for the surrounding communities and the region.
The letters sent to Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake and posted in their entirety below were recently written to alert City Hall of the BDC’s mismanagement of the pivotal RFP process.
The Mayor is being called on to intervene and bring experienced professionals aboard, who have assisted scores of communities in redeveloping their beloved historic theatres across America. In the past 30 years, professional theatre redevelopment experts have amassed a wealth of information, and their accomplishments serve as successful models to emulate in Baltimore.
We request that you support an optimal future for “Baltimore’s Premiere Showplace” by expressing your support to the Mayor for the involvement of experienced experts to help guide the Senator RFP process and the theatre’s redevelopment.
We’ve made it easy for you to do so, by filling in your basic contact information and adding whatever comments you wish to an existing letter here: ( http://citizenspeak.org/node/1955 ) that will be immediately forwarded to Mayor Rawlings-Blake. Please also take a few minutes of your time to forward this communication to other preservation groups and historic theatre websites and to friends and family.
Thank you for your assistance in support of a Baltimore’s irreplaceable and iconic Senator Theatre to ensure that its future incarnation will provide another illustrious 70 years of service to the region.
See you at The Senator!
Friends of The Senator
From Baltimore Heritage:
The Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Mayor, Baltimore City
City Hall, Room 250
100 North Holliday Street Baltimore, MD 21202
Re: Historic Preservation Experience Needed on the BDC
Dear Mayor Rawlings-Blake:
I want first to convey our enthusiasm for your new administration and offer my assistance and the assistance of Baltimore Heritage wherever we can be helpful. We are partnering with various city agencies to support the proposed Red Line transit project, housing and community development initiatives in Harlem Park, and many efforts by the city’s preservation commission and planning department in neighborhoods throughout Baltimore. I would be eager to talk to you further about these or other areas of potential partnerships.
I am writing today, however, to share one concern that we have with the structure of the Baltimore Development Corporation, namely that there are no representatives from Baltimore’s historic preservation community on the organization’s board of directors. The BDC is charged with working in historic areas and on historic buildings throughout the city, and this lack of preservation experience has resulted in decisions and decision-making processes that are unnecessarily controversial and we believe often imprudent.
The Senator Theater is a recent example of where the lack of preservation perspective is ham-stringing the BDC. Letters to you from the Theatre Historical Society of America and the Friends of the Senator Theater request that the city add someone with experience in redeveloping historic theaters to the review panel that will decide on the competing proposals. We support these requests and concur that someone with preservation and historic theater experience is a necessary component to review proposals for this historic landmark.
The Superblock is another ongoing example of where the BDC would benefit from having a board member with historic preservation experience. For too long this critical area downtown has languished as proposals have ignored the preservation requirements for the site and its redevelopment potential based on preserving the historic buildings. A leadership team that includes a preservation voice would help get redevelopment on the site going.
As you formulate and implement the programs and priorities for your administration, I urge you to examine the composition of the BDC board and work to add a voice for historic preservation. I firmly believe that this will improve the integrity of the decision-making process and help speed preservation and redevelopment projects that the BDC handles every day.
cc: The Honorable Jack Young
Mr. M. J. Brodie
Ms. Kathleen Kotarba
Mr. Tyler Gearhart
From Karen Colizzi Noonan, President, Theatre Historical Society of America:
Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Mayor, City of Baltimore
100 N. Holliday Street Room 250
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Dear Mayor Rawlings-Blake:
As President of Theatre Historical Society of America, I write to you today to convey my unconditional support for the careful and considered reuse of the Senator Theatre, one of America’s most recognizable historic theaters.
Further, I implore you as a matter of responsible stewardship, to include an experienced, knowledgeable historic preservation expert with specific expertise in theater preservation, on the BDC panel charged with deciding the Senator’s future.
The BDC has already reached out to the League of Historic American Theaters, located in Baltimore, to supply written input. It is imperative that such an expert physically sits on the commission and has the opportunity to give on-going guidance and consultation as part of the deliberations.
The Senator’s storied façade is revered nationally and internationally as an icon of Art Deco design in general and theater architectural history specifically. The Senator’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places demands that those responsible for its care take every step within their power to protect the integrity, viability and historic nature of the structure.
Your administration has a small window of opportunity to create a safe environment for the Senator’s to flourish in the decades to come. The eyes of the Preservation Community are on Baltimore as this historic decision is made. Please feel free to call on Theatre Historical Society or me for assistance at any time.
Karen Colizzi Noonan
President, Theatre Historical Society of America