Historic Buildings come with historic challenges

Historic Buildings come with historic challenges:

The Hippodrome's Elevator Replacement Project & The Show must go on.

Gainesville, January 4, 2024 — The former federal building,  a cornerstone of cultural heritage in Downtown Gainesville since 1911, is facing a significant challenge as its 112-year-old elevator has reached the end of its life and has been permanently closed. The City of Gainesville, which owns the historic building, is working with community partners to assess and plan for the replacement of this vital component.

Since 1980, the Hippodrome Theatre has been a proud steward of this iconic building. With the generous support of the community, the Hippodrome has offered a space where stories unfold through theatre, movies, events, art, and more. However, the aging elevator has always presented a unique challenge due to the building’s layout, with the mainstage situated on the second floor and rehearsal rooms, offices, and the costume shop on the third.

To ensure continued accessibility to live theatre experiences while awaiting the installation of a new elevator, the Hippodrome is introducing an initiative—“Alternate Access Theatre.” This program will provide an inclusive and accessible theatrical experience for all patrons. Performances will be adapted to take place on our 2nd Stage/Hipp Cinema, located on the first floor, accommodating individuals requiring elevator access or extra assistance with stairs.

For our upcoming Tony-Awarded Musical, “Next to Normal,” we are happy to announce an extended run, including staged concert-style shows on February 24-25 in the Hipp Cinema. Additionally, the Spring show, “White,” will move to the same second stage for a special one-night performance on Sunday, April 14 at 7 pm.

Addressing the unique needs of patrons and staff during this transition will be an ongoing challenge. The Hippodrome anticipates that additional costs in labor and infrastructure upgrades will be required to ensure the easily accessible 2nd Stage/Hipp Cinema continues to meet the highest professional standards in live theatre.

The success of this ambitious undertaking hinges on the unwavering support of the Gainesville community and the City itself. The Hippodrome invites patrons, businesses, and local organizations to continue their efforts in preserving this historic cultural gem and ensuring that live theatre remains accessible to all.

The Alternate Access Theatre initiative is commitment to providing accessible theatre experiences throughout the duration of our elevator replacement project.

While the second stage on our first floor wasn’t originally designed for full mainstage productions, considering the potential multi-year timeline for the elevator replacement, it becomes crucial to offer accessibility to patrons who require elevator access or additional assistance with stairs. To achieve this, the Hippodrome will present adapted performances of each show in our more intimate space, the Hipp Cinema, located on the first floor. This undertaking necessitates upgrading the existing infrastructure, including lighting equipment, sound systems, wireless communication systems, and scaled-down set pieces.

To make this vision a reality, we’ve set a funding goal of $50,000. This amount will contribute to the necessary upgrades, ensuring that the Alternate Access Theatre initiative provides a seamless and inclusive experience for all patrons.

Keep the Hipp Accessible – Donate Now