Supporters paint Manchester's Palace Theatre red, in Bedford
BEDFORD — The spotlight was on the Palace Theatre Wednesday evening during the Paint the Palace Red fundraiser at the Manchester Country Club in Bedford.
Guests were greeted at the door by the cast of “A Chorus Line” and treated to two performances from the musical. The purpose of the event was to help raise money to paint the interior of the Palace Theatre.
“People love the Palace,” said Peter Ramsey, president and CEO. “It’s a great institution.”
The interior painting is estimated at $120,000 to $150,000. A specialized painting company will bore down to the original paint, which is 20 layers in some places, and analyze the samples.
“They can come back with the original color, and we’ll try to match that,” Ramsey said.
Once the painting is complete, the next steps in the campaign include brick repointing, new balcony seating and replacing the heavy wooden doors with two glass doors for patron accessibility.
In total, the theater has raised $2.5 million with a year and a half to go. As part of the ongoing $3.5 million capital campaign, the theater has already upgraded the sound equipment and bought new downstairs seating. A $325,000 sprinkler system was installed last summer.
Every community needs a performance center to help bring people together, Ramsey said, and the Palace has filled that need in the Manchester area for nearly 100 years. The building will celebrate its centennial in April.
The palace opened in 1915 and has a colorful history of survival. It was spared in 1984 while the block burned around it. In 1987 it was flooded by 80,000 gallons of water and closed for five months. When Ramsey arrived in 1999 the doors were closed and the theater owed $200,000 to 47 different vendors, he said.
Now, 15 years later, the Palace is debt free and is ready for the next 100 years. The Palace Theatre holds more than 200 events a year, Ramsey said. About 12 nonprofit organizations also used the building for fundraising events last year. A recent study found that the Palace Theatre generates $6.5 million for the New Hampshire economy annually, Ramsey said.
“It makes our community a better place. It’s powerful, it changes lives,” Ramsey said.