The family that owns one of Greenport’s grandest buildings is looking for the public’s help this week in restoring the building, long home to Goldin Furniture, and returning it to its original use as a public theater.
The Greenport Auditorium, at 434 Main Street ,was built in 1894, with seating for 300 at the orchestra level and seating for 100 in the balcony. The theater closed in 1939. Oscar Goldin opened a furniture shop there in 1948, selling couches and recliners on the stage and in the orchestra seating area, but retaining most of the original features of the theater.
The furniture store has been in Andrew and Alex Aurichio’s family since 1968, and Alex Aurichio launched a GoFundMe page Wednesday seeking donations to restore the theater.
“We are planning on starting a non-profit organization to return the building to its original use as a cultural centerpiece of the village,” said Mr. Aurichio in the GoFundMe announcement. “It would be used as a theatrical, film and music venue, as well as other events. In the meantime though, it needs major repairs to the roof, exterior and foundation. Profits from the furniture business are insufficient to accomplish this task, so we’re asking for donations to begin repairs and restoration. We will also use part of the funds to file for 501c3 status so we can begin applying for grants and accepting charitable donations.”
The building is often mistakenly believed to have been the Greenport Opera House, but the opera house, built in 1899, was actually a block away on the corner of Bay Avenue and Main Street. The opera house was torn down in 1956, and the lot it stood on is now the parking lot of Chase Bank.
According to the Greenport Village BID’s historic walking tour guide, The Greenport Auditorium “is a large, handsome and impressive Queen Anne structure built through the “pluck and public spirit” of Miss Sara Adams to “uplift the moral tone of the community.”
“The architect was George H. Flack and the builder was Charles Corwin. Until 1938, the Auditorium was the center for cultural entertainment that included serious dramas, vaudeville and band music. Despite its current use as a furniture store, the owners have preserved the interior — its dressing rooms in the basement below stage, the curved balcony with ornate metal grillwork and the stage are in excellent condition.”
Mr. Aurichio is seeking to raise $40,000 for the initial renovations, and had raised more than $600 by the end of the first day of the campaign. He said the building recently had emergency repairs made to its roof, but it will need a new roof, an exterior paint job, and the electricity in the building will need to be rewired.
“This project is near and dear to my heart because I grew up here,” he said. “As a child, I loved exploring this beautiful old Queen Anne Victorian theater. As a teenager, I worked at the furniture business that my parents ran. It would break my heart to see it fall further into decay or be sold off for a fraction of its real value. Built in 1894, it is a local, state and national treasure that must be preserved. Only six theaters of the same design still exist anywhere in the world. Our hope is to see it returned to its original splendor and updated with 21st century technology.”