WESTPORT, Conn. – What’s now a large mound of dirt filled with tires and other items long ago discarded by Westporters will over the next several months be transformed into a new Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts .
Although construction crews broke ground on the project last month, Westport dignitaries and Levitt Pavilion supporters—including philanthropist Mimi Levitt, for whom the pavilion was named—gathered at the construction site Monday to formally celebrate the start of that transformation with a ground breaking ceremony.
“Today represents a milestone in the Levitt Pavilion’s history and future,” Janet Plotkin, chairman of the Friends of the Levitt Pavilion board, told the dozens of people at the ceremony.
Established in 1973, the Levitt Pavilion is an outdoor summer entertainment venue located along the Saugatuck River that provides over 50 free nights of entertainment to residents of Westport and beyond. Over the past 40 seasons, the Levitt has served 1.5 million visitors from the Tri-state area, Plotkin said.
The new pavilion, designed by Peter Cadoux Architects, will feature a covered stage, an information booth and hospitality center featuring a concessions area and indoor restrooms. It will also feature an enhanced and extended river walk, which will go around the entire peninsula.
“This transformed site, with a new state-of-the-art stage and hospitality center, will allow us to catch up with our already outstanding programming and raise our own bar event higher,” said Plotkin. “It will give us the infrastructure to continue to present world-class artists, and to attract and serve even more guests each year.”
The new facility will be built on the grounds behind the Westport Library, where the previous pavilion was. Before it became the Levitt, the site was a landfill.
“Never have so many waited so long, and spent so much money to dig up a garbage pit,” First Selectman Gordon Joseloff joked during the ceremony, prompting laughter.
“I think it’s something we are going to be very proud of,” Joseloff added. “It’s going to draw a lot more people to Westport and I think it’s the beginning of the dawn of a cultural renewal.”
Much of the funding to get the project underway has been raised through private donations by the Friends of the Levitt Pavilion. The town also contributed a $1.1 million gift toward the project and two state grants totaling $950,000 were also received.
While construction has begun, the capital campaign for the project continues as more funds need to be raised.
The pavilion is scheduled to be completed by next summer, just in time for the start of the 41st season. For more information about donating to the capital campaign, visit the Levitt Pavilion website or contact Carleigh Welsh, director of marketing and communication for the Levitt, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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