Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2006 Preservation Award Winners
Kinnell-Kresge Building / Beacon Cinema • Pittsfield
Kinnell-Kresge Building / Beacon Cinema • Pittsfield

Adaptive Reuse, Rehabilitation & Restoration

The Kinnell-Kresge Building was built in 1918 as a joint development by Dr. George Kinnell, a local veterinarian, and the S.S. Kresge chain of five-and-dime stores. It was designed by Pittsfield architect Joseph McArthur Vance with a distinctive white-glazed, terra-cotta façade. The building originally contained retail space, offices, and a warehouse. Long vacant, by 2007 the building was suffering from neglect and was significantly deteriorated. Nevertheless, it was the city’s best remaining example of early 20th-century commercial architecture.

This recent adaptive reuse project restored the Kinnell-Kresge Building and converted it into a six-theater cinema. The cinema complex was built within the footprint of the existing warehouse section of the building, allowing the historic office spaces to remain intact. These offices were fully restored and they now continue their historic function. A remarkable aspect of the project was the painstaking restoration of the decorative terra-cotta façade consisting of close to 2,000 individual white-glazed tiles. The restoration involved the inventory and removal of every piece. Almost half of these were restored and reset. The remaining portions of the facade received new terra-cotta tiles that exactly matched those originals that were too deteriorated to reuse. The façade details include lion heads, egg and dart ornamental trim, floral swags, and lettering. The historic storefront, long since removed, was replicated. This excellent restoration and adaptive reuse project contributes greatly to the revitalization of downtown Pittsfield, and to the city’s economic development plans focusing on the arts.

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