Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District was illuminated by a beacon of hope on the evening of March 3 when the marquee of the Centre Theatre was lit, signaling the ongoing revitalization of the area.
“This is a milestone in the next Baltimore, the Baltimore that we want to live in,” Charlie Duff, president of theatre developer Jubilee Baltimore, said in a blog post cited by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
The Centre, located at 10 E. North Ave., is considered a treasure of the Art Moderne style, a type of late Art Deco architecture and design. The theatre opened on Feb. 2, 1939, to great fanfare, according to CinemaTreasures.org. At the time it housed WBFR radio, it was the first theatre in the city to have broadcasting in-house, and was the first with the ability to project live television on the screen. Movies ceased in 1959, and the building was later used as office space and a storefront church, among other uses. But it has lain dormant for the past 20 years.
The $18 million rehabilitation project will be “a center for arts and innovation” and “will build Station North’s brand as the center for Baltimore’s creative economy and catalyze redevelopment in the surrounding district,” according to Jubilee Baltimore’s website.
The project involves converting the vacant 67,000-square-foot building to accommodate restaurants, 200 jewelry-makers, and the film programs of Johns Hopkins University and Maryland Institute College of Art, as well as The Center for Neighborhoods, a hub for community-based nonprofits. The first tenants are slated to take occupancy in April.
The project received financial support from the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Neighborhood Revitalization funds. The Centre Theatre joins other recent and future development on North Avenue and in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, such as the MICA Studio Center, North Avenue Market, Maryland Festival Parkway and Load of Fun building rehabilitation.