BY Amy Petrovich
In May 2019, Sacred Heart University purchased the Fairfield Community Theater located on Post Road about 15 minutes from campus. The Media Arts Department along with other departments within the university are aiming to restore the theater.
The theater will be turned into a space where both the Fairfield community and Sacred Heart students can enjoy.
The theater is partaking in fundraising efforts in order to maintain and embrace the historic value of the building. Funds are being raised through the Sacred Heart website.
“Recently we started an awareness and fundraising campaign to generate some excitement that the project is really moving along, and that construction is actually starting. In fact, part of the perks of fundraising is giving the donors some preopening memberships to any events going on in the season,” said Bill Harris, the Director of the SHU Community Theater.
The Theater has existed for almost a century now, and with the help of Sacred Heart and the community, this landmark will be preserved.
According to Cinema Treasures, “The Community Theatre was a twin screen movie theater located in downtown Fairfield, Connecticut. Opened circa 1923 as a vaudeville house, it changed to an all film format in 1929. The theatre was renovated in 1933 which included the sealing off of dressing rooms, the construction of a balcony, and a neon tubed Art Deco marquee.”
The marquee is one of the well-known features of the building sitting at the front to welcome all guests inside. Sacred Heart intends on keeping these historic pieces intact.
“Where we’ve really gotten some additional opportunities is doing a lot of historic restoration now. We’re bringing back some of the design elements in the theater such as the stage, the original ticket booth, the concession stand, and most importantly, the iconic marquee,” said Harris.
The theater will be used to project films as it originally was, and will be an educational hub for Sacred Heart students interested in the film industry as well as Fairfield County youth.
“Some of our sponsorships in the community are going towards a free after-school program, discounted senior and student tickets, and bringing in a great educational program and some great guests as well,” said Harris.
The theater will be run by Sacred Heart and its students.
“The theater is going to be SHU-powered, a good portion of the roles in the theater will be anywhere from volunteers, to graduate students, to a free-lance staff, to work study students, to internships. This is going to be a vibrant full spectrum business activity,” said Harris.
This theater has been vacant in the community, with the lights turned off since its official closing in 2011.
“I grew up in Fairfield and decided to stay in the community and attend Sacred Heart. I always remember driving down Post Road and seeing the Theater with its huge sign on the front,” said freshman Olivia Vadas.
“I am so glad as a longtime and current member of Fairfield’s community that Sacred Heart was able to not only save the theater but turn it into something great where community members can enjoy it for years to come.”
With the theater’s dual purpose of both entertainment and education, it will surely be a place to remember in the community.
“We are planning to unveil it on Memorial Day after the parade in town, showing that the theater is not a black hole in the middle of town. It will be a vibrant, lit up space,” said Harris.
If you or anyone you know would like to donate to the SHU Community Theater restoration, please visit https://weareshu.sacredheart.edu/project/19140.