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Tuesday, 18 September 2018 12:39

Commissioners OK Montfort design plans

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Halifax County commissioners have agreed on design plans for the renovation of the Joseph Montfort Amphitheater, which was home to the outdoor drama First for Freedom.

The unanimous decision on plans presented by the Raleigh architectural firm Skinner, Farlow and Kirwan was made during the board’s meeting Monday night.

Alicia Kirwan, principal of the firm, presented a three-phase plan, the first dealing with revamping the seating and stage area of the amphitheater in Halifax; the second dealing with a ticket area and patio and the third addressing parking.

Cost of phase I improvements are 1,430,575. Phase II improvements are estimated to be $954,374 and phase III is slated to cost $381,359 for a total construction cost of $2,766,308.

County Senior Management Analyst Ian Bumgarner said following the meeting the county will seek grant funding for the project which would include an application to the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the state Department of Cultural Resources.

He said the cost estimates include the equipment necessary for putting on productions of First for Freedom, which tells the story of the signing of the Halifax Resolves.

Elements include designing seating for between 400 to 450 people; dressing rooms, storage and backstage area to support stage functions; concessions and a restroom building; lighting stands and other structures to support the site; ADA parking and vehicle access to the backstage area.

The redesign would provide a variety of seating which would allow flexibility of use and provide some seating with backs.

The design would not only support First for Freedom productions but would allow for events such as family reunions, different civic events and concerts.

Commissioner Rives Manning, who serves as chair of amphitheater committee, was pleased with the design. “I think the designs come as close to what we had as can be done under code.”

The venue hosted the first performance of First of Freedom in 1976.

Since the state returned the lease of the building to the county in 2015, the county has spearheaded the effort to rebuild it.

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