The Future of an Historic Building in Burlington

Burlington, Vt. - Memorial Auditorium has been a Queen City landmark since it was built in 1928.

It's been home to various groups and activities, including 242 Main, originally Burlington's teen center. Now it's the country's oldest, longest running, all ages punk rock music venue.

James Lockridge is passionate about showcasing Vermont music through his nonprofit, Big Heavy World.

"We're creating a historic legacy and a record of music in the state," said Lockridge.

He's seen lots of home grown, young musicians perform at 242 Main, inside of Burlington's Memorial Auditorium.

"It's a safe place that fosters kids to be creative, to respect each other, to learn it's okay to be bold and confident and share with one another, whether it's art or ideas. That's what every community needs," said Lockridge.

Now almost a century old, the auditorium is more than showing her age, structural issues plague the building, it means 242 Main's future is on borrowed time, as is the future of the whole building.

"An old heating system, it's a 1958 steam boilers system within it, there's a lot of masonry work that needs to be done," said Capital Projects Manager, Martha Keenan.

With essential repairs costing about 15 million dollars and funding short-falls in Burlington's 10 year capital plan, Fletcher Free Library is teaming up with Parks and Rec to help find a new home for a venue that's helped young people express themselves for so long.

"One of the options we're going to put out there is potentially using the library as a concert venue. We hired a new teen librarian this year so we're hoping to be able to transition some of that programming content and support for that teen focus,"said Fletcher Free Library Director, Rubi Simon.

 "Between the library and parks, we've got a lot of spaces that could be used creatively and more efficiently than our existing facility," said Jesse Bridges of Burlington Parks Recreation.

Repairs for next year will cost 4 million dollars, money Burlington doesn't have right now.

Other programs inside Memorial Auditorium, such as Burlington City Arts have to find new homes as well. The city of Burlington is in the process of taking proposals for the future of this structure should be.

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