Future of Chatham’s Monomoy Theatre in Limbo

CHATHAM – The future is uncertain for a staple of theater and the arts on Cape Cod.

The Monomoy Theatre, a Chatham landmark that’s seen theater enthusiasts enjoy Broadway style shows for over six decades, could be put up for sale within the coming weeks.

The University of Hartford had terminated its lease of the property following recent health and safety violations, prompting the owners to sell it.

Monomoy Theater Artistic Director Alan Rust, also Director of the Theater Program at the Hartt School, said that in years past, the fire department typically conducted inspections of the property and issued orders for various health and safety improvements.

“Last year, they brought by a new person in the Health and Building Department and they felt that there were issues that didn’t follow code and that improvements had to be made,” Rust explained.  

“The important thing to remember here is that almost all of these improvements were problems that pre-existed the lease with the University of Hartford. The University of Hartford has always maintained it, they’ve painted the house, they’ve re-shingled it, they’ve done the plumbing and the regular maintenance.”

The property owners, the Steidner Family Trust, have engaged in discussions with nonprofit Monomoy Theater, Inc., about selling the property to the organization so it can continue to operate as a theater. However, the likelihood of such an agreement being reached within a month is unknown.

With the necessary repairs to keep the building operational were too high for the University to continue its lease, Rust says the school mostly provided administrative support.

“The reason the University didn’t renew the lease is because they can’t really legally renew a lease on property that the Health Department says is unsafe for their students,” said Rust.

“It’s not at all that they don’t want to run the theater, but clearly they just couldn’t do that. It’s not that they said ‘We don’t want this anymore,’ because I think they would probably be happy to do it if the repairs could be made.”

Rust adds that the majority of the theater’s budget comes from box office sales, and that all funding the theater had received over the fall has “dried up.”

Located at 776 Main Street, the property is made up of six buildings, including a main house, the Bassett House, a workshop, the theater, and smaller outbuildings. The property also consists of a small cottage on 70 Depot Road.

The 3.6 acre property and all associated buildings is valued at $1,550,800 with a $429,300 value of the cottage.

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center

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