Rutherford residents organize rally in support of William Carlos Williams Performing Arts Center
This Saturday, June 26, residents of Rutherford will hold a rally at Williams Center Plaza from noon to 3 p.m. to voice their objections to the demolition of the Williams Center, a private, non-profit performing arts and film complex, which sits on a coveted piece of real estate in the center of this northern New Jersey town. Rutherford resident and Broadway veteran, concert performer, recording artist, composer and MAC award winner Rosemary Loar, will make a special appearance at Saturday’s event.
On June 14, Rutherford Borough Council voted 4 to 1 to adopt a redevelopment plan drafted by Neglia Engineering that does not require the new buyer to restore the Newman Theater. In doing so, they rejected all of the Planning Council’s amendments and recommendations and dismissed the concerns of hundreds of residents. Neglia’s redevelopment plan does not require the building owner to preserve the historic Newman Theater. This plan will be put to a final vote next Monday, June 28. Residents of Rutherford circulate a Change.org petition which has collected over 2,700 signatures to date.
Bergen County, owner of the historic Williams Center for the Performing Arts, will auction it on August 19. For more information about the Center and the online auction, you can visit https://www.savethewilliamscenter.com/.
The Williams Center is home to the Newman Theater, three movie screens and an outdoor terrace. A gorgeous 2 ton crystal chandelier, a twin of the one that hung in the original Warner Brothers Theater (later renamed Marc Hellinger Theater) on Broadway and 51st Street hangs above the 642-seat theater. However, since 2012, the Newman Theater has been closed due to damage to its plaster ceiling during Hurricane Sandy. Inspired by other restorations to historic theaters taking place across the country, a Save the Williams Center group is hoping this Saturday’s rally will raise awareness of the Williams Center auction and spark the interest of a developer focused on the arts that could save the Newman Theater and sponsor its revitalization.
A HISTORICAL STORY: The Williams Center is named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and doctor William carlos williams who lived in Rutherford. It was originally built in the 1920s as a vaudeville theater known as Rivoli and major acts such as Abbot and Costello and The Glenn miller The orchestra performed there.
For the past two years, the Williams Center board of directors and volunteers have kept the center afloat, modernizing theaters and hosting special events such as concerts, comedy nights, craft beer tastings and screenings. of films. They believe that a tastefully renovated Williams Center could add value to the city’s cultural and economic life, as well as provide a shared community event space and promote a vibrant arts scene.