New building construction

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BRATTLEBORO — New England Youth Theatre signed off on a $25,000 Windham Regional Commission Grant last Wednesday, marking the official start of construction for a new 2,600-square-foot outdoor amphitheater and garden classroom space at 56 Elm St., just west of NEYT's existing theater building.

The amphitheater, designed by local architects Stevens & Associates, will have three levels of seating, a stage and several discrete garden areas for rehearsal, meetings and classes. Commemorative bricks, granite benches and other permanent features of the new space are being sold to complete the funding of the new space.

Named for a donor, NEYT's new Glendon Mayo Theatre is set to open in late June, just in time for NEYT's summer offerings.

"Summertime is a particularly busy time for NEYT," said NEYT Executive Director Hallie Flower, noting that the new space will be used for existing programming. "We've been bursting at the seams for a long time now and our new outdoor space will be a welcome and refreshing addition to our four indoor classrooms and main stage theater."

The construction marks the first expansion of performance space since the 19-year-old youth theater's Flat Street building opened in 2006. Prior to 2006, NEYT was located in the Latchis Theatre building in a former Chinese restaurant.

Springfield-based All Seasons Construction won the demolition and construction bid for just over $336,000 earlier this year, according to David Dunn, NEYT board member and head of the board's buildings and grounds committee.

"The 1870s Livery Building that currently occupies the site of the new space will be demolished as part of the theater's campus-wide cleanup plan," said Dunn, who noted that because of its later iteration as a paint storage site, the Livery Building was unsuitable to be rehabilitated. He also noted that the NEYT parking lot and front-yard space were addressed in 2015 with a major clean-up effort funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Vermont Department of Conservation and the Windham Regional Commission, all of which worked with NEYT for many years to address contamination of its property, including the former Tri-State Auto building and Livery Building. Both buildings had long histories of industrial use.

Demolition of the Livery Building was approved by Brattleboro's Design Review Board on Jan. 18, 2017. NEYT has worked with the Vermont State Historic Preservation office to properly archive the building's past use and historic significance. The site will be marked with a wayfinding sign to commemorate the building.

"A commemorative plaque with an image of the old Rockwell & Sherwin's Carriage Company will be featured on the outside of the eight-foot high fence and wall that will abut Elm Street," said Dunn, who notes that flood protection and security were major considerations for the new theater's plan.

Besides Kate Mayo who named the new theater for her late husband, Glen, who was active in community theater, the project has received foundation support from Jane's Trust, and major funding from the NEYT Board of Directors. The majority of the project costs are covered by a $200,000 grant from the EPA. The town of Brattleboro assisted in the planning phase of this project via its brownfields program.

Those wishing to learn more about contributing to the new theater and outdoor classroom space by purchase of a commemorative brick, bench, granite seating block, light pole or tree should contact NEYT Manager Michelle Meima at michelle@neyt.org.

Located in downtown Brattleboro, NEYT educates 500 students annually in theater and performing arts, employees more than 40 full- and part-time theater and teaching professionals and mounts 24 productions annually.

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