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Historic Senator Theatre To Reopen This Week

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Senator Theatre is back.

The 74-year-old Baltimore landmark has been closed since spring of 2012, but it reopens this week with a fundraiser featuring, "Hairspray," from Charm City's own, John Waters.

The Daily Record reports that Waters and city and state officials will be on hand Thursday to help relaunch the historic movie house that fell on hard times.

Kathleen Lyon bought the theater with her father, James "Buzz" Cusack, in 2012 after the city purchased it during a foreclosure auction in 2009.

"The significance of the theater to the city is humbling," Lyon said. "It's all so surreal and we're just so thrilled at how it turned out. We are so excited, excited for the city and the neighborhood. It's such a treasure."

The theater has undergone $3 million in repairs and renovations funded through personal loans, a $460,000 state grant and a $600,000 loan from the city. Now in addition to the 770-seat main theater, there are three smaller auditoriums. The rotunda in the lobby has been restored to its original splendor with renovated jewel tone murals and an art deco chandelier.

The improvements to the complex also include repairing and replacing the theater's nine roofs, bringing bathrooms up to code and a new concession stand. A 75-seat restaurant and wine bar in the front portion of the complex is expected to open soon.

"It's been a lot of work," Lyon said of the project. "But it's gorgeous."

The Maryland Historical Trust and the U.S. Department of the Interior supervised the work since the theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation also approved the redesigns.

"We have used historic photographs to help in the restorations," Lyon said. "Much of what you see here has been copied from the original designs."

On Friday, the Senator will begin to show a mix of first-run films, documentaries and revival films.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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