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Renovations to The Kate’s columned entryway will begin this spring. (File photo by Becky Coffey/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
The Kate is about to undergo a facelift. Repairs to the portico of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center were approved at a Town Meeting on March 26. The $126,000 project will renovate the pedestals and pillars facing Old Saybrook’s Main Street.
Kate Executive Director Brett Elliott said the repairs are needed both for safety and aesthetic reasons.
“[I]t was time to peel back many stucco patches and layers of paint, and restore this part of the building to its former glory,” he said by email. “Cosmetic alterations were made when the building was renovated over 10 years ago, but this project will address the root causes of cracking concrete and rotting wood.
“Project dates are not yet finalized but work is anticipated to begin late spring with completion during the summer—all ahead of the Kate’s tenth anniversary this September,” he added.
The work will have limited impact on the Kate’s operations, according to Elliott, as “the historic front entrance is no longer a primary entrance to the theater. Appropriate planning has been made with the Town of Old Saybrook and the fire marshal for the brief period of time this specific building exit is off line.”
The former Town Hall of Old Saybrook, constructed in 1911, continues to be owned and maintained by the town. The building, which early on was used for governing as well as performances, had been completely taken over by the administrative side by the 1950s, according to information on The Kate’s website. In 2003, the year of Katharine Hepburn’s death, residents voted to restore it as a theater. Two years later, Hepburn’s family allowed the new cultural center to take the name of the actress, who had deep roots in and a strong affection for the town in which she spent most of her childhood and later made her home.