Sunday, June 09, 2013

Threat of Building Collapse Above State Theatre, Portland, Maine

Before noon on Sunday, June 9, 2013, Michelle Souliere of the Green Hand Books was told that the High Street side of the Congress Street's State Theatre building was collapsing. She ran down to take a look, and found it wasn't as bad as the imagination might indicate. But something rather incredible was happening. The building was buckling out.

Traffic was disrupted anyway, in Portland, because down by the waterfront, the Old Port Festival, attended by upwards of 30,000 people, was in full swing. Live music, food vendors, artists, street performers, crafts, and lots of fun.

Here are some images of the way it normally looks around the State Theatre, and down below are Michelle's photos.
Loren Coleman photo.


Portland Press Herald photo.


Michelle Souliere writes, on Strange Maine:
You can see the collapse is very centralized. A source with a studio on the Congress Street side of the building was in her studio this morning, and when she noticed the fire engines and cordoned off street, tried to leave via the High Street exit and was told by officials that she had to leave the building from the Congress Street exit because the High Street exit was "unsafe."
She also reported hearsay from other building tenants that there had been a small explosion that morning (a jeweler's torch tank? seems likely with all the artist studios in there), which would explain how centralized the incident is. Another friend did point out, however, that none of the windows are broken, which could belie that explanation. Another person has stated since that the loud "CRACK!" could have simply been the facade forcibly separating from the structure.
WCSH-6-NBC reports:
3:40 UPDATE: State Theater says tonight's show will go on, but there will be delays due to parking concerns. Doors will open at 8pm, show now starts at 9pm.
3:15 UPDATE: Contractors have knocked down a large portion of the facade that was bowing in the building. Bricks are now strewn over High Street, and a business's front window on the bottom floor of 142 High Street has been damaged.
High Street will be closed down through Monday's commute.
 Portland Fire and Police moved into action.


The four photographs above are courtesy of Michelle Souliere, Green Hand Books
See more photos here. And here.

I had an office in this building for two years, which I obtained through a charity auction. It is an old building, but one that has lots of character, is filled with creative people, and many folks would be impacted with any structural disruption.

The State Theatre is a quick walk down the block from the Green Hand Books (661 Congress St) and the International Cryptozoology Museum (11 Avon St), both in separate locations in the Outer Arts District of Portland, Maine - within the 101-year-old Trelawny Building.

Of course, it is just a coincidence that the deadly collapse of the building on June 5th, in Philadelphia, occurred across a side street from the Mütter Museum.

The State Theatre opened on November 8, 1929, and was designed in a semi-atmospheric/Spanish style with an original seating capacity of 2,300. It operated as a first run movie house until the late 1960s, when it became a porn theatre. In 1989, the theatre was closed and fell into disrepair. By the mid-1990s, the theatre was saved and restored. It closed for a brief time after its restoration and was reopened by new owners as a performing arts and concert venue. Then it closed in 2006. Major repair work occurred during 2010, and the newly renovated State Theatre was reopened in October 2010.

1 comment:

Danny Cahalin said...

Looks like shoddy work on the renovation.I seen a story today on an explosion in Westminster Colorado,yet another Denver suburb.As I read it I had the impression that You at some point would have an entry on the incident.Love your work here.