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Md. Theatre expands lobby, concession area

June 30, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Maryland Theatre has a larger lobby and concession area following renovations that were part of a 3,500-square-foot expansion into the former McBare's Pub building, Executive Director Patricia Wolford said.

As part of seven weeks of work, a wall between the existing theater lobby and the former pub building was knocked down and a door was installed to connect the two buildings, she said.

A theater annex building, with two entrances off South Potomac Street, now houses the theater offices, concessions and the expanded lobby.

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"I think it is a fine addition to a wonderful existing structure. The public will be pleased with what they see," Paul L. Swartz, a theater board member and Washington County Commissioner, said.

The changes were needed to provide more space in the lobby, Wolford said.

Some theater patrons who previously would not go to the lobby during show intermissions because it was too crowded can now do so with more comfort, Swartz said.

The outside wall on which the theater marquee sits will be painted red within the next week, Wolford said.

The theater is using the former pub property under an agreement between the City of Hagerstown and the Hagerstown/Washington County Industrial Foundation. Under the agreement, the former pub property is now owned by the foundation. The theater has a three-year lease with the foundation, Wolford said.

The renovations cost about $25,000, she said. They were funded with donations and money from other private sources.

The new concession area is twice as large as the old one, Wolford said.

It contains a 45- to 50-foot-long bar, which she has heard is the "longest bar in town."

It is now easier for patrons to buy tickets to theater events since the box office is at street level, she said. Previously, tickets were purchased at an office off an alleyway next to the theater.

On Friday, a Miss Maryland Gallery was dedicated in the building. The gallery contains 15 photographs by Dale Swope of the last 15 Miss Maryland winners.

About 80 people attended a dedication ceremony and examined the changes to the buildings. Many praised the improvements.

"It will make the Maryland Theatre a better gem than it has been in the past," Sen. Don Munson, R-Washington, said.

Part of a plan for a more than $20 million Performing and Visual Arts Center calls for demolishing the pub building to make room for a courtyard and expanding the theater lobby toward Potomac Street.

The agreement between the city and Hagerstown/Washington County Industrial Foundation allows the theater to use the former pub building until it is demolished, Mayor William Breichner has said.

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