In front of the Symphony Hall there are large “NSH” letters on the zebra crossing. Each letter includes the names of previous artists such as Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan. Courtesy Clarke Canton Hintz.

A famous Newark arts venue has reached a milestone in its restoration worth $ 50 million. Known for its huge auditorium and world-class acoustics, Symphony Hall unveiled images of a redesign that pays homage to the past with contemporary elements like modern lighting and a street mural.

It is proof of the original design by the architect Frank Grad that little is touched by the neoclassical exterior. The most noticeable feature is a redesigned glass tent that was inspired by its predecessor. The old marquee, which had become an icon of the venue, was installed during the renovation by Alex Bennett Kahn in 1965.

This respect for the past fits in with the larger theme of renovation, which, according to John Hatch, director at Clarke Caton Hintz, the renovation company in Trenton, “should breathe new life into this sacred ground.”

Restoration of Newark Symphony Hall 3The new marquee pays homage to the original marquee designed by Alex Bennett Kahn in 1965. Courtesy Clarke Canton Hintz.

If the upgrades are completed in time for the concert hall’s 100th birthday in 2025, the Lincoln Park neighborhood is expected to revitalize and create hundreds of jobs in a longstanding arts district that has been overshadowed by NJPAC for several decades.

Not enough attention is paid to the size of the company – the 2,800 seat capacity is larger than Carnegie Hall and the building spans the length of an entire city block. A state-of-the-art performing arts venue of this size and history has the potential to pull the city’s center of gravity just south of town hall.

“Great monuments of this magnitude are erected by civilizations on a vertex,” once wrote Peter Rubinstein, an architecture specialist with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, “to celebrate and symbolize the constancy, strength, spiritual energy and prosperity thereof.” Society.”

This grandiose description was published in 1976 in the application for the National Register of Historic Places, which was completed a year later. It was in the middle of the century when Symphony Hall had its prestigious chapter as a stopover on classical music, where Leontyne Price performed and conductor Leonard Bernstein praised the acoustics.

Although the Symphony Hall has hosted small art exhibitions and theatrical performances in recent years, it was closed due to the pandemic last year. This isn’t the first closure Symphony Hall has seen. During the Great Depression in 1933, Symphony Hall – then called the Mosque Theater – not only had to close its doors, it also suffered the disgrace of being sold to Prudential for the sale of a sheriff. The city has owned it since 1964.

Restoration of Newark Symphony Hall 1A 1940 listing in the Montclair Times advertises a play starring James Cagney at the Mosque Theater in Newark.

When the venue reopens, Taneshia Nash Laird, General Manager, will lead the venue into its new chapter as a black, women-run arts organization with a program that celebrates and explores people’s experience of color. Later that year, Laird produced a streaming performance of Richard Wesley’s “The Black Terror”.

“With immense determination and collaboration at the city, state, and federal levels,” said Laird, who received a $ 750,000 grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust, “we know this is going to be a monumental project that that Will encourage growth and job engagement. ” , especially for BIPOC artists and individuals in our great city and throughout the Tri-State. “