Colorado-based contractor White Construction Group is partnering with Humphries Poli Architects of Denver and the Elitch Gardens Historic Theatre Foundation to restore one of the classic landmarks of northwest Denver, the Elitch Gardens Theatre.
Built in 1891, the Elitch Theatre was a prominent part of Colorado culture for a century, hosting performers such as Grace Kelly, Douglas Fairbanks, Edward G. Robinson, Mickey Rooney and Robert Redford. The theater screened Colorado’s first moving picture in 1905.
Antoinette Perry, nicknamed “Tony,” made her debut on the Elitch stage at age 11 before going on to Broadway fame and eventually becoming the namesake of the “Tony” awards. The once-iconic structure fell into disrepair after closing its doors in 1991 when a violent hailstorm damaged the building and terminated its last production mid-run.
After a 2007 renovation focused on the exterior of the building, the Elitch Theatre Foundation has raised $540,000 for the first phase of interior rehabilitation, including a Community Block Development Grant of $425,000 from the Denver Office of Economic Development.
Humphries Poli Architects was chosen for design. White Construction Group was selected for construction management due its extensive experience with historic restoration projects as well as its emphasis on community-focused construction.
The initial phase of interior restoration will bring the 122-year-old theater up to code and implement bare-bones, life-safety compliance measures. The $350,000 construction project will focus on infrastructure items for the ground-floor pavilion, including structural upgrades, sprinkler systems, electrical updates and other safety upgrades. There will also be renovations to the scene-changing pit and backstage structures.
Later phases of the renovation will address the balcony and cosmetic features. The Elitch Gardens Historic Theatre Foundation is continuing its fundraising efforts for future renovations with a variety of programs, including a film series that ran this summer. The ultimate goal for the theater is to return it to use as a working theater, as well as a community center and host of art education programs.