STRATFORD - An important piece of Stratford history was burned to the ground earlier this month and state senators have taken action to ensure the community doesn’t lose a piece of history.
The American Shakespeare Festival Theater was destroyed by a fire two weeks ago on January 13th. Senator Kevin Kelly is a part of the bipartisan group of legislators who are seeking a state bonding investment of $5 million to be used to rebuild the theater.
“I put this forward to get five million dollars in the hopes of making sure this remains a public recreational and entertainment venue, particularly focused on the Stratford brand of arts and entertainment,” Senator Kelly said.
The purpose of the committee is to hear and review input from residents who want to have a say about what should be created in place of the theater, according to Stratford Mayor Hoydick.
Mayor Hoydick named 11 residents to the task force, but encouraged all residents to contribute to the revitalization plans.
According to residents, there has been a renewed interest in the property due to the fire and many want it to remain a cultural venue.
“We want to make sure we get the full voice of the town and the task force is going to be put together to reach out and see what the people of Stratford would like to see here,” Senator Kelly said. “It has an air of aesthetic beauty and we hope it remains.”
The theater was built in 1955, but has been closed for three decades. It was known for famous performances by stars such as Katherine Hepburn and James Earl Jones.
The task force is the first step in a successful, collaborative effort from the Stratford community to ensure the theater's legacy, Senator Kelly said.