Community Rallies to Save Central City's Belvidere Theatre

Community Rallies to Save Central City's Belvidere Theatre
Courtesy of Central City
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Two years after it was acquired for back taxes by Gilpin County, the historic Belvidere Theatre in Central City is entering the second phase of its restoration.

The structure, built in 1875 at the south end of Main Street in Central City’s National Historic Landmark District, was listed in 2016 as one of Colorado Preservation Inc.’s Endangered Places. Since then, work has been completed to stabilize the building, and in April, efforts to restore its exterior facade and reinforce the interior walls will start, says Zeke Keeler, the town’s community coordinator. The goal is to complete the restoration by the end of the year.

“It’s starting to come back to life, which is a great thing,” Keeler says. “The goal is to open it up for the community.”

Central City is still trying to raise funds for the project through GoFundMe.

The two-story brick structure, proposed by Henry Teller and Judge Silas Hahn after a fire destroyed many of Central City’s buildings in 1874, was built into a steep hillside and housed a 450-seat performance space with a raised stage and seven sets of scenery. In addition to local performances, it hosted traveling theater troupes, magicians, minstrel shows and music concerts.

The theater was so successful that the Central City Opera House was built in 1978, causing theatrical performances to decline, though the building’s first-floor businesses continued to thrive. Among the best known of those businesses was Beaman’s Central Bottling Works, which opened in 1886 and continued until 1904. Over the years, the building housed retailers, and Company F of the First Infantry, Colorado National Guard, which designated the building as Armory Hall. The school district used the main theater floor as a basketball court in the 1930s, and a Works Progress Administration project in 1938 converted the ground floor into a community center for dances and movies.

The building fell into a state of disrepair after 2000, but when Gilpin County acquired it in 2015, the community rallied around the idea of saving it.

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