Cambridge Multi-Cultural Arts Center: Upcoming Renovation Will Bring new Life to Courthouse
The old Bullfinch Courthouse in East Cambridge will house a new Multi-Cultural Arts Center, David Kronberg, director of the project, said yesterday.
Work on the $9.5 million center will begin within the next several months and should end by mind-1984. Kronberg said. The center will sport performance and gallery space, along with studios and darkrooms. The center will aim to provide the community and the "emerging artist with a fully equipped facility," said Kronberg. The group has started taking proposals for projects, exhibits or performances for the center, which will seek to sponsor events put on by various ethnic groups.
Planning for the center began five years ago when City Councillor Sandra Graham founded the organization in the hopes of providing "a place where members of the Cambridge community of nay race, creed or sex can get the kind of artistic opportunities they might want." Graham recalled yesterday. Graham said that the springtime ground-breaking ceremonies would "have a great psychological impact on all of us who have worked on it for so long."
The arts center and Graham Gund Associates, Inc., the architects and developers for the project, leased the old courthouse from Middlesex County in 1981. The historical landmark was designed in 1814 by the architect Bullfinch, who also designed the State Capitol downtown, and it has since been renovated several times.
The Gund group has been working with the Cambridge Historical Society in order to restore parts of the building to represent four different time periods ranging from 1814 to 1920.
The arts center will lease about 15 percent of the approximately 90,000 square feet of space that will be available in the renovated building.
Lawyers, retailers and restaurateurs working at the neighboring Cambridge Courthouse Complex will use the remaining space, said Peter Madsen, the Gund developer in charge of the project.
Funding for the project is coming from an urban development action grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and various loans and donations.
City officials feel that the new center will have a positive effect on the Cambridge area. "It is something that will give us opportunities that we haven't had before in the arts," said Mary Flynn of the Cambridge Community Development office.