The Hippodrome Foundation announced that construction is about to begin on an $18.6 million renovation and revitalization project that will transform the 1887 Eutaw Savings Bank building at Eutaw and Fayette streets, now called the M&T Bank Pavilion.
Since it opened in 2004, “the Hippodrome Theatre has provided millions of quality of life experiences for Maryland residents by bringing Broadway close to home, providing an economic boost for the state and city and serving as an arts education anchor for the tens of thousands of students we’ve helped over the past 16 years,” said Hippodrome Foundation chairman Wally Pinkard, in a statement.
The Eutaw Savings Bank is one of several historic structures that the state of Maryland acquired along Eutaw Street and consolidated in the 1990s to create what is now known as the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center.
“This new space will allow the Foundation to provide even more educational programming and diverse arts presentations while offering an accessible, more affordable rental space for smaller cultural organizations. It’s a winner.”
A historic bank building next to the Hippodrome Theater will be converted over the next year into Baltimore’s newest performance and events space.
When complete in early 2023, the M&T Bank Pavilion will be able to accommodate a wide range of community events and performances, separate from the Broadway shows at the adjacent Hippodrome.
The Hippodrome at 12 N. Eutaw Street was designed by Thomas Lamb and dates from 1914. It reopened in 2004 as a state-of-the-art, 2,286-seat theater and has welcomed dozens of Broadway shows over the years, including Wicked, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera and Hamilton. Its 2021-2022 lineup there starts today with Pretty Woman: The Musical.
In addition to restoration of the Hippodrome, a second performance venue was planned for the Eutaw Savings Bank space but it was never completed. That’s the project the foundation is starting now, and it represents the final phase of renovation at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center.
The project will convert the existing 5,395-square-foot pavilion into a 12,000-square-foot flexible performance and events space, with a stage and full lighting and sound systems. Three configurations will be available for renters: a banquet configuration for up to 575 attendees; a theater configuration for up to 580, and standing events for up to 1,200 people. Seats will be retractable for maximum flexibility. Construction is expected to start this fall and take 13 months to complete. The Hippodrome Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization that was established in 1976 as the Baltimore Center for the Performing Arts. It was created to operate the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre at Baltimore and Charles Streets in Charles Center. After the Hippodrome opened, the Mechanic theater was razed and the Baltimore Center for the Performing Arts was renamed the Hippodrome Foundation.
The state of Maryland owns the buildings that make up the France Merrick Performing Arts Center, and the Maryland Stadium Authority oversees work on the properties. Whiting Turner is the contractor for the M&T Bank Pavilion improvements. Andrew Springer is the project manager. OJT Architects of Washington, D. C. is the architect, with theater specialist Gary Martinez as the lead designer. Major contributors include the State of Maryland, the France-Merrick Foundation, the Abell Foundation, and M&T Bank, as well as several local foundations, corporate and individual supporters. “The new M&T Bank Pavilion will be the perfect complement to the crown jewel that is the Hippodrome Theatre,” said Olive Waxter, executive director of HFI, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have a new space to expand our services to the community.”
Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.