My Dream For Lowell: Smith Baker Center [Anne-alysis]

posted on: February 7, 2011

Ever since I moved to Lowell, I've felt an intense energy to create change in the city and on a large scale. However, I am only one person and am limited in my personal resources. What I do have is vision; a vision so intense and so real that sometimes it's scary. When people hear me talk about all of my ideas, they are often overwhelmed, but when I lay them out visually and with clear examples of successful models already working, suddenly it all seems more possible and much less scary. So, here I share my vision with with you- with whomever the universe it calling to see this...

The Smith Baker Center becomes a Community Performing Arts Center

Current State:
This building is already owned by the city and is in grave need of roof repairs before the leaks do any further structural damage to the inside of the gorgeous craftsmanship of this building. It's an amazing acoustic space, thought by many in the city to be one of the finest acoustic spaces in the area, partially due to a unique grooved ceiling that allows the sound to only reverberate in necessary areas. The current seating has allegedly accommodated former Parker Lectures, New England Orchestra Performances, Community Theatre Productions, and even a national touring Cambodian Opera. The Lowell Plan showed me that they had created a vision for this space, but I have yet to see any financial backing or successful partnerships happen for this space.

My Vision:
The wood seating needs to be removed and updated for modern accessibility. The theatre seats and pews, which are uniquely curved, handcrafted, and made from gorgeous woods, could be auctioned off to providing funding for updating the seating options.  There's a beautiful set of organ pipes which I've been told are disconnected and is likely to be worth more sold as parts to get a new sound system, than repaired. Youth Build could invest time and energy into cleaning the place up and helping with some of the repairs that they are capable of doing. Music Business students at UMass Lowell could invest time in creating feasibility studies for the usage and marketability of the space and maybe even take on event management internships of the space with a dedicated managing supervisor. The UMass Lowell Off Broadway Players are also an amazing college student run and managed group that are quickly outgrowing their 500 seat Comley-Lane Theatre, and would make fabulous use of the opportunities afforded by a more inviting, innovative, and publicly available space.

Fantasies Fairytales 540
The former classrooms on the lower level under the stage area could be outfitted for sound insulation and used as private music teaching rooms rentable by the hour and the larger community music/theatre rehearsal space could be used for rehearsals to save energy when the larger space isn't needed. It might be an ideal place for cabaret performances, like those put on by The Miracle Providers Northeast and for film screenings, like those put on by Lowell Film Collaborative.

The larger space is ideal for folk and acoustic performances which would allow the Lowell Summer Music Series to become a year round folk music series and a place to hear local bands without needing to buy a beer or be 21+.

If you're interested in learning more about the opportunities involved with this space, please contact paul_marion @ or lznunn @

4 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. Anonymous8:37 PM

    Well, there is no money because there is no money. The Smith Baker Center isn't the only thing in town that needs help, sad to say. personally, I love the benches and would hate to see them or the organ bits go. they are what makes the space different from most other spaces. i completely agree the space could serve many great purposes but before you think the Summer Music Series is sustainable year round you should talk to a few folks who actually have a clue of what's involved. I don't mean to sound negative but Lowell is not Boston or the Village.

  2. Anne, you inspire me with your vision, passion and leadership. Thanks for being a change-agent, the world needs more people like you!

  3. Anonymous10:07 PM

    While your thoughts for the Smith Baker center are very nice, I object to the removal of the pipe organ. That instrument is likely of historical value if it is an original installation in the building. It is not listed in the Organ Historical Society Pipe Organ Database, and it is my intention to document the instrument in its entirety. If my speculations are correct, then the instrument deserves a full restoration.


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