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Visualizing Architectural Character: The Effects of Rehabilitation on the Voices of 20th Century American Theater

Directed by Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll, 160pp.


This study analyzed the significant interior alterations completed during the rehabilitation of five historic theaters throughout the United States in order to understand how those changes affect the architectural voices of a historic interior. A building speaks through its form, materials, textures, and sounds, and through these means it converses about its life, its character, and the values and beliefs of society. The researcher utilized both the National Register nominations as well as the Federal Tax Credit applications to address: how architects and designers treat authenticity, integrity, and historic character while solving modern day issues, such as accessibility and building codes, how National Park Service approved changes affected interior character, and what consistencies, if any, were apparent between the projects. The theaters selected for this investigation fit the criteria of individual listing on the National Register of Historic Places and Part III approval for Federal Tax Credits. Additionally, all theaters were constructed between 1926 and 1929 with subsequent rehabilitations between 2005 and 2009. National Register nominations provided historic background on the theaters, while Federal Tax Credit applications yielded detailed information on the approved changes. Using the Federal Tax Credit applications, the researcher first assessed each before rehabilitation photograph, analyzing the form, proportion, rhythm, scale, light, material, finish, and detail of each interior space within all five theaters. The after rehabilitation photographs were then examined using the same criteria and compared through charts to understand what types of changes occurred during rehabilitation. This study generated an understanding of the compromises necessary to both preserve a historic interior and modify it to meet current needs.

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College of Arts and Sciences
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