Western Massachusetts’ Berkshires region is known for its performing arts scene – think Classical music at Tanglewood – but the region lacks downtown theaters and clubs. With the new Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield, that’s changing. The theater opened in 2009 in a renovated historic building, the Kinnell-Kresge Building, which was originally built in 1918. Historic features were retained during the renovation, including the building’s distinctive terra cotta tile façade. At the same time, the building – once a department store – was modernized and adapted to a new use: a six-theater cinema capable of showing 3-D films and hosting live events.
Architecture firm John G. Waite Associates, which oversaw the renovation, describes the project as “a crucial element in the revitalization of downtown Pittsfield.” The opening of the Beacon Cinema was “rightly seen as a milestone in the infancy of a dynamic night life scene” in Pittsfield. Yet cinema operators are also showing children’s movies during the daytime, which helps to keep downtown Pittsfield active during daytime hours. On opening night in 2009, Kelley Vickery, founder of the Berkshire International Film Festival, remarked, “It’s great for everyone who loves movies, but it’s especially great for the city of Pittsfield. I wish I owned a business right next door!”
View before and after photos of the façade restoration: