Victory Theatre Mural Conservation

Holyoke, MA

The Victory Theatre was built in 1920 by the Goldstein Brothers Amusement Company. Samuel and Nathan Goldstein of Western Massachusetts Theatres Incorporated were pioneers in the movie business in the area. Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) acquired the Victory Theatre in 2009 with the intention of using it as a catalyst for revitalizing downtown Holyoke. The theatre is intended to become the anchor for Holyoke’s arts and theatre district, which would not only increase commerce and tourism, but also provide crucial access to arts education for the community.

A grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interior allowed for the murals to be removed in 2010 and placed into storage. EverGreene completed a microscopic analysis and general condition survey of the existing interior finishes in Victory Theatre in 2018. The survey was used to document the historic color palettes and decorative motifs as well as to document the current conditions of the remaining flat and decorative plasterwork.

Our team is now performing conservation and restoration treatments on two painted murals in the Victory Theatre, titled “War” and “Victory” at our Brooklyn studio. The murals underwent mold remediation, paint stabilization, lining of the panels, cleaning and varnish testing and removal, removal of post-historic overpaint, and selective inpainting.

The Victory Theatre was named after the 1918 Allied Victory from World War I. The theatre flourished due to the increased interest and demand in vaudeville performances and silent motion pictures. With the arrival of the talkies in the late 1920s, they transitioned to a movie theater in 1931. In 1942, a fire damaged the backstage of the theatre; much of the original 1920s paint scheme was selectively overpainted and new art deco designs were painted over much of the flat plaster beams and fields on the ceilings and proscenium surround. The box seats flanking the stage were filled in and two WPA-style murals were put in their place showing allegorical figures of Victory. The murals were completed in 1943 by Vincent Maragliotti of Maragliotti Studios and represent war and victory, respectively. Examples of Maragliotti’s work can be found in the Finance Building in Pennsylvania, St. Martin of Tours Church in New York, and the Jesse Jones Gulf Building in Houston, Texas. In addition to his mural and artistic works, Maragliotti performed decorative finishing in several theatres and hotels around New York State. The Victory Theatre reopened after renovation and persisted to be a vibrant movie house until it closed permanently in 1978 due to declining ticket sales. Holyoke once had seven theaters: the Victory Theatre is now the last standing theater in Holyoke.