Originally built in 1916, the National Guard Armory Building in West Chester, Pennsylvania is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It originally served as the headquarters for the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team until 2012, a group who traces its lineage directly to Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin formed the unit in 1747 to protect the Colonies during the French and Indian War. The building is situated in the heart of the West Chester Historic District, a cohesive series of beautiful streetscapes with significant historic importance and presence. Situated 25 miles West of Philadelphia, West Chester is uniquely and easily accessible to a diverse group of communities.
Uptown! Entertainment Alliance set out to re-envision the National Guard Army Building as a vibrant and successful theatrical performance facility. Adaptable spaces were critical in order to accommodate a variety of events such as live theater, musical artists, dance, film, and community events. Finding innovative ways to incorporate accessibility and preservation with the Secretary of the Interiors’ Standards for rehabilitation was an important consideration in order to have access to the Historic Preservation Tax Credits. Without the credits, the project risked financial viability.
The first floor adaptive reuse includes a new 327 seat theater with a 1,500 square foot stage, a box office, and an intermission room with full-service bar. The second floor includes a multi-purpose performance room, a green room, in addition to the theater lighting and sound controls on a balcony above the main performance Theater. The lower level provides for an additional Function Space with a green room, dressing rooms, and new toilet rooms to accommodate the change in use.
Uptown! Entertainment Alliance
West Chester, PA
Adaptive Reuse Renovation
The West Chester Downtown Foundation | West Chester Historic Preservation Award | 2017
Preservation Pennsylvania | Public Impact Award | 2017
Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia | Grand Jury Award | 2019