ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Broadway Theatre League has achieved a decades-long goal: They now own the entirety of the Auditorium Center located at the corner of East Main and Prince Streets.
The historic structure was originally built as the Masonic Temple of Rochester back in 1930. It included a large auditorium space, now known as the Auditorium Theatre.
Prior to this $2.4 million purchase, the performance non-profit owned about half of the building, which they acquired in 2004, representatives said during a news conference Tuesday. The other half of the building was owned by a private firm.
Several leaders within RBTL highlighted the various plans the organization has for the future. They plan to renovate and restore the historic building, enhance amenities for patrons, increase physical accessibility, and add to the overall ability to host performers in the space.
RBTL CEO Arnie Rothschild says the renovation plans will total up to $12 million, and says RBTL is hopeful for future funding through state and local partners.
Currently, the organization is in the middle of a $1 million sound system upgrade in the Auditorium Theatre.
Rothschild lauded the historic beauty of the space, adding RBTL is ecstatic to be able to invest in and enhance the addition of the property.
“The quality of work that the masons put into this is just beyond belief,” Rothschild said, “We will make this an absolute jewel in our community.”
Rothschild adds previous calls for a larger venue are no longer needed due to industry changes and the introduction of dynamic ticket pricing.
“That change was the impetus for getting us to today,” said Rothschild, “Dynamic pricing moves price up as demand increases. So now, this beautiful, 2,464 seat venue will be long-term, which is the solution to bring great entertainment to this town.”
After serving with RBTL for 50 years, COO John Parkhurst says he is hopeful the changes will make a noticeable difference.
“I was a young kid coming into this theatre, so I’ve been here a long time. The demands for backstage are different. The demands of our audiences are different. You take a building that’s 100-years-old and you have to adjust to those demands, and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” said Parkhurst.
As part of these aesthetic and technical upgrades, leaders say performers near and far will be able to rehearse in the spaces, which they say in turn, will help boost the local economy.
RBTL has plans to start construction this summer — the least-trafficked time — beginning with the Auditorium Center’s main floor. RBTL hopes to have the work completed by 2030 — the building’s 100th anniversary.
The Rochester Broadway Theater League hosts touring Broadway groups, and provides other live entertainment for those in the Greater Rochester Area.