Construction manager Joe Rapp, representing Ramshackle Properties LLC, the new owner of America's only movie theater turned motel, presented the plans for the building, which involve removing everything that was added in 1959 when the building was converted into a motel.
The proposal includes removing the "mansard roof" that was added at the front of the building and all the decorative iron. The steel casement windows at the front of the building, over the marquee, would be replaced with wood casement windows, all the vinyl double hung windows would also be replaced with wood casement windows, and the plate glass windows on the ground floor front would also be replaced. The metal doors giving access to the rooms would be replaced with painted solid wood doors, the front entry door would also be painted wood, and the balconies on either side of the building would become two-story screened-in porches. The brick of the original building, only part of which is now painted white, would all be painted white. The only thing not painted would be the terracotta cap at the top of the parapet.
Also proposed was a fence along the property line of the parking lot, which, although the rendering doesn't show it, would have a gate that would remain open all the time. The fence, together with the new treatment of what is now a porte cochere, caused some consternation.The porte cochere, which cars can now pass through into the parking lot, would be converted into something like a slip, where cars could pull in, presumably to discharge passengers and luggage, and then would have to back out again to get the the entrance to the parking lot a little farther to the east. Although this is something that would typically be taken up in a site plan review by the Planning Board, it is not clear if the project will go to the Planning Board because it is not a change of use. Consequently, members of the HPC assumed the task of worrying about cars having to back out onto Warren Street.
HPC architect member Jack Alvarez declared the proposal "grossly underrepresented" by the materials presented with the application. "We need architectural drawings, we need a site plan," Alvarez stated. HPC member Peggy Polenberg added that she wanted to see elevation drawings for both sides of the building.
Alvarez observed that, by stripping away the 1959 changes and additions, "the old theater is actually showing itself" and wanted to see a historic picture. He speculated that the steel casement windows were probably original to the building and requested evidence that they really were rotted and beyond repair. He also warned that wood casement windows would appear heavier than the steel casement windows. He also cautioned against painting the brick, explaining that "when you paint masonry, you keep it from breathing."
In the end, the HPC voted unanimously that the application was incomplete and requested a site plan, detailed and annotated elevation drawings, architectural drawings, and historic photographs. Gossips was able to help fulfill the last request, supplying Rapp and members of the HPC, after the meeting, with this photograph of the Warren Theater taken soon after it was built in the 1930s, discovered a while back by Lisa Durfee.
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