Mohawk Theater open house for potential bidders attracts little attention | Northern Berkshires

NORTH ADAMS — It looks like the city’s ongoing effort to sell the iconic Mohawk Theater will continue to be an uphill battle.

There were only a few visitors at an open day last Thursday, where potential bidders were able to view the building. The opening hours ran from 9.00 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. As of 1 p.m., there was only one serious potential bidder, according to a city official posted at the door

There had been one bidder last fall who had bid $21,000, but the city council chose to bid again, hoping to get at least $100,000.


A view of the stage from the projection booth at the Mohawk Theater in North Adams. The city is once again looking for a buyer for the vacant downtown icon. Thursday 9 June 2022.

The Mohawk Theater opened in 1938 and closed in 1991.

The city bought the Mohawk Theater in 2002 to prevent further decay and preserve the iconic building. It is considered an outstanding example of Art Deco architecture in western Massachusetts.

In the mid-1930s, Loews Cinemas commissioned Boston architects Mowl & Rand to design the 1,200-seat theater, which also featured a Native American motif in the public areas.

The Mohawk Theater is up for sale again. Interested buyers have eight weeks to bid at least $100,000

On opening night in 1938, 1,250 people paid 35 cents each to see That Certain Age, a black and white musical starring Deanna Urbin, Melvyn Douglas and Jackie Cooper. By the 1980s, new multi-screen theaters and VHS tapes were beginning to reduce attendance at the old single-screen theaters, and the Mohawk was not immune.


A view of the stage from the balcony of the Mohawk Theater in North Adams. The city is once again looking for a buyer for the vacant downtown icon. Thursday 9 June 2022.

The theater was sold to a private investor in 1987, who opened the theater up for occasional film and live concert offerings, but efforts to preserve the Mohawk were short-lived. In 1991 its doors were closed again.

In the early 1990s, the theater hosted a Johnny Cash boxing match and concert. But every momentum was short-lived. It soon became empty and deterioration set in, with water leaks accelerating the damage. The roof has since been repaired and a recent grant will fund a makeover of the marquee.

The Mohawk Theater in North Adams is getting $200,000 for its marquee and facade

Former North Adams Mayor John Barrett, who sought the Mohawk’s acquisition as mayor, sponsored the city’s purchase of the building, which led to several projects to stave off further deterioration.

The next mayor, Richard Alcombright, tried unsuccessfully to broker a partnership with the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Alcombright also brought celebrities Lauren Hutton, Laurence Fishburne, Catherine Nouvel and Jeremy Irons to tour the theater and hear their ideas on what could bring it back to commercial success.

Mayor Tom Bernard, Alcombright’s successor, was able to attract a bidder in 2021, but the $21,000 offer wasn’t enough to garner support from the city council.

North Adams will resume the sales process for the Mohawk Theater

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