Caroline Hollister loves her hometown. Caroline is based in Jaffrey, New Hampshire and has spent much of nearly 80 years making life better for others in her small New England community. A tireless participant in myriad community organizations, Caroline has been a perennial volunteer at the Jaffrey Civic Center, serving as a historian for the local American Legion Aid Unit, and as executive director of the State Department’s international business exchange program. She has served on various civic bodies, oversaw the city’s voter checklist, and helped a variety of business, economic, and regional catalysts such as Arts Alive! and Team Jaffrey, the city’s revitalization committee. Among her public performances, none embodies her altruistic spirit and flair for the dramatic better than the recently recreated Park Theater in downtown Jaffrey.
“The original Park Theater first opened in 1922 and quickly became the center of community life as a movie house and variety theater for almost 60 years,” Hollister fondly remembers when one quarter was enough for a movie ticket and box of popcorn. “The theater was built by a local in the barn behind his farmhouse. People came from all over to enjoy a show twice every day and Sunday. “
Despite its success as a touchstone for the community, the original Park Theater got into tough times in the early 1970s and was eventually closed and sold in 1976. It functioned as a retail store and warehouse for more than a decade before being repositioned as the backend of a bicycle repair store and frame maker. In 2002, when a group of interested citizens contacted the then owner to buy and redevelop the site, the foundation stone was laid for the revitalization of the Park Theater.
“I was invited to join the Park Theater Corporation in early 2005,” says Hollister of her initial involvement. “I had no idea what that meant. I thought we would decide which films to show and which shows to book, so I went with that. By June 2006, we had raised over a hundred thousand dollars to secure the property. However, during the construction inspection, we quickly discovered that the structure was not a really good candidate for redevelopment. It had to be destroyed and completely replaced. “
When the prospect of transforming the nearly 200-year-old barn and farmhouse into a code-compliant, ADA-accessible cinema of the 21st century was recognized as impossible, the task at hand grew immensely. When the estimates came in to replace the theater with a completely new building, it was clear to Hollister and everyone else involved that they would need additional help to raise enough money to pay the rebuilding bill.
“At this point, we engaged a professional fundraiser that had many wonderful, creative opportunities to raise funds,” says Hollister. “One of the projects she proposed was a collection of sponsor stars that were integrated into the lobby and resemble the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. We loved the idea and reached out to our architects to make it happen. “
Matt Pelletier is an associate at BKA Architects, the Boston-based company that was chosen to design the new Park Theater. He was with BKA throughout his 21 year career. Matt begins at the designer level after graduating from college and works his way through the ranks. Now he is integrated into the company’s management structure. BKA is committed to helping organizations like The Park Theater Corporation succeed by providing innovative solutions to the challenges of the built environment through targeted, value-driven design solutions.
“The BKA’s involvement in the project began around 2008,” says Pelletier of the project. “It’s not often that we take on a design assignment that has lasted more than a decade. Due to the many iterations, the donor stars remained of outstanding importance for the overall aesthetics of the building entrance. When the time came to make that promise a reality, we knew it had to be special. “
Something special started with a call to Premier Concrete Construction, LLC of Wilton, NH. The owner, Eric Traffie, grew up in masonry and moved to concrete when he was twenty. He founded Premier in the summer of 2000 in response to strong local demand for high quality concrete options. As a Bomanite licensed contractor, Premier has built a reputation for quality and creativity through a full profile of services including stamped, pickled and polished concrete, legacy concrete and a full range of decorative coverings on the surface.
“Decorative concrete is constantly evolving,” says Traffie, explaining the near-limitless possibilities of Bomanite products in the hands of a network of qualified contractors across the country. “We fill a niche in our regional market by offering products and services that no one else can. These amazing fundraising stars on this beautiful floor in the Park Theater are a great example of what we can do. “
The original design request from BKA was an exposed concrete floor made of polished concrete, in which the stars were seamlessly integrated into the surface. After touring the site, the team met in Premier’s showroom to see and touch samples of bespoke Modena from Bomanite, which is aesthetically similar to terrazzo. Modena is a cement-like interior finish that is mixed with the hand-picked aggregates selected by the customer, which are poured, ground and polished to the desired degree of gloss.
“MS. Hollister was originally unsure whether the vision for these stars was possible,” continues Traffie. “The system we proposed was a combination of Modena for the stars and monochrome bomanite renaissance using a very deep black, that we developed specifically for this project called Raven Carbon Black. “
In a multi-stage process, the main volume of the Bomanite Renaissance was first poured with tailor-made star shapes that were set into the ground at the level of the ground at the beginning of construction. After most of the theater surfaces were installed a few months later, Premier returned to the site, removed the placeholder molds and installed the custom Modena stars.
“We started with a challenging but achievable design goal for the customer and finally found an impressive solution for a very high-quality, tailor-made floor that honors donors for future generations,” says Traffie about the finished product.
Hollister agrees and shares their joy in a nutshell.
“It was a wonderful experience to be involved in the design and realization of this theater,” she says enthusiastically. “So many people supported this project. We can all take pride in being ordinary people who come together to achieve something extraordinary. “