The Next Stage Of The Levitt

For a couple of years now, the Levitt Pavilion has been in a state of flux.

Not the leadership or the entertainment — the pavilion itself.

The original structure was great for its time. But that time — and weather — took its toll. In May 2007 — after 34 years — the bandshell burned to the ground.

No problem. It was a training exercise, conducted by the Westport Fire Department.

A temporary structure was erected. Within 2 years, officials promised, a new, improved pavilion would be built.

Five years later, plans are still on the drawing board.

Literally.

The temporary Levitt Pavilion.

On Monday, contractors interested in the project examined the site. Bids are due soon.

According to executive director Freda Welsh, committee members will then determine whether it’s possible to actually start building this year, to be ready for 2013.

According to the Levitt’s website, Westport architect Peter Cadoux’s new pavilion

will feature greatly improved facilities and amenities for audiences and artists alike. Our new LEED-certified building will have a covered stage with vastly updated technical abilities, furthering our capacity to attract world-class artists as well as to support emerging ones. The enhanced park will feature an improved RiverWalk and picnic groves, an info booth and community hospitality center outfitted with food services and indoor restrooms — all of which will feature universal access.

It’s already 4 years overdue. Fundraising in the current economic climate is not easy — just ask the Y.

A rendering of the proposed new Levitt Pavilion, from their website.

Though the Levitt sits on public land, its 50 nights of free entertainment are privately funded.

The new project will rely entirely on donations, too.

The 39th season kicks off Sunday, June 24 with a “60s Show.” Musicians include former members of Billy Joel and Elton John’s bands, the Boston Pops and current Smithereens.

The traditional summer-long mix of military bands, klezmer, comedy, kids’ nights and everything else — a modern-day Ed Sullivan Show, minus Topo Gigio — follows.

Perhaps in 2013 they’ll perform on a fresh, modern, state-of-the-art stage.

Or sometime this century.

5 responses to “The Next Stage Of The Levitt

  1. Temporary structure? Looks like the fire department will get more training.

  2. Why do we keep accepting that capital projects which make the town better and keep property prices up have to be paid for by private money (and therefore might never happen)? Between the Rec department organization and this it’s concerning that we don’t think that the town itself bears any responsible for keeping up the cultural/recreation facilities which make the town great. I think the Y is separate from this, but the Levitt is a great free facility for everyone in town.

  3. Dan, thanks so much for the great overview of the Pavilion’s 5-year journey, and we are hopeful that we may at last be able to begin construction this fall. We should note, however, that while the major portion of the Pavilion’s operating budget is privately funded, we are fortunate to receive additional assistance from the Town of Westport and the DECD’S Office of Culture & Tourism every year. In addition, we have already received two significant grants from the State towards the new Pavilion’s construction costs.
    Freda Welsh, Executive Director
    The Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts

  4. Westport Convert

    Yes, let’s get the government even MORE involved with private projects… Puhlease!

    I have faith in the Levitt and believe it will receive the funding needed. Dan, do you have any of the previous press releases regarding the Levitt campaign? I could have sworn that I read around 4.2 million of the needed 6 million is already secured (or pledged). Or am I just dreaming?

  5. David J. Loffredo

    Funny that we burned it to the ground in 2007 when money was cheap and our economic prospects were unlimited….Fast forward 5 years and in hindsight perhaps a little renovation would have served us well whist we got all of the approvals and financing in place to build a new one.