Preserve Attleboro's Union Theater: Add it to the National Register of Historic Places
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The beautiful Union Theater Building, 1 Dunham St. is an important Attleboro, MA landmark. Constructed in 1926, this structure provides locals with a refreshing example of Classical Revival-meets-Art Deco architecture. When the building was converted to a theater in the 1930s, it was opened under the name "The Union Theatre- Attleboro Branch," and was one of only two theaters in the city. This building offers a glimpse into Attleboro's early 20th century recreational and cultural practices. It can offer additional context for the area's celebrated industrial contributions to the nation by illustrating how early 20th century industrial workers (and other locals) spent their recreational time and money.
This building was submitted to the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System in the 1980s. This is a great first step for preserving this property; however, it is not currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places. According to the National Park Service website, getting the Union Theater Building listed in the National Register of Historic Places provides formal recognition of a property’s historical, architectural, or archeological significance based on national standards used by every state. Results include:
• Becoming part of the National Register Archives, a public, searchable database that provides a wealth of research information.
• Encouraging preservation of historic resources by documenting a property’s historic significance.
• Providing opportunities for specific preservation incentives, such as:
> Federal preservation grants for planning and rehabilitation
> Federal investment tax credits
> Preservation easements to nonprofit organizations
> International Building Code fire and life safety code alternatives
• Possible State tax benefit and grant opportunities.
What does this mean for Attleboro residents? It means that the beautiful Union Theater Building would qualify for Federal (and possibly State) money that might spark interest in buying or selling this property so that the process of preserving, rehabilitating, or restoring the theater for public use might begin. Or it might convince or assist the owners of this building to begin preserving, rehabilitating, or restoring the building for public use.
Perhaps this public use would take the form of a hip theater that runs independent films in a vintage setting. Perhaps this use would take the form of a local history museum (focusing on local architecture, depression era recreation, or even historic theaters!) There are numerous possibilities, and the first step that must be taken to realize the Union Theater Building's potential as an historic place is getting it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Union Theater Building already contributes to the Attleboro landscape by way of its gorgeous facade. It can contribute to Attleboro's economy and culture as well.
As an added plus side, the National Park Service website notes that National Register listing places no obligations on private property owners. There are no restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property. The current owners are even given an official opportunity to object to the building's listing on the National Register of Historic Places. So there is truly no downside to signing this petition!
Support the Union Theater Building's preservation. Make your voice heard! Sign this petition so that everyone can see that the public is interested in the preservation of this building. Sign it so that the decision-makers at the City of Attleboro's Historical Commission, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and the National Park Service know how important this building's historical value is to Attleboro residents and visitors!
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