Entertaining History

Commercial Projects

Entertaining History—Yale Repertory Theatre

Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Materials Scientists:
Restoration Specialist:
WJE Associates

Universal Preservation Group

Repairing an historical landmark required a team of steadfast professionals

The historic Yale Repertory Theatre resides on the site of the former Calvary Baptist Church. Its building was erected in 1846 in the Gothic revival architectural style on a plot of land that was once home to one of the founders of New Haven, CT. The church was controlled by the nearby Yale University, which was already served by a nondenominational chapel.

In 1966, Robert Brustein founded the Yale School of Drama with the “goal of facilitating a meaningful collaboration between theatre professionals and talented students.” Since then, it has become one of the first distinguished regional theatres.

From 1966 to 1979, one of the testaments to Brustein’s management of the theater was his resolve to have a resident company. He worked to achieve a permanent theatrical company, offering encouragement to the then-new discipline of a not-for-profit theater, and his management model laid the groundwork for future generations of thespians. Brustein’s innovative and enterprising interpretations of new plays and classics have endured as the foundation of the Yale Repertory Theatre.

In the years since Brustein’s reign, “Yale Rep,” as it is affectionately known, has not only garnered international acclaim, but it has produced well over 100 premieres by both up-and-coming and well-known playwrights, including two Pulitzer Prize winners and four other selected finalists. Twelve productions have gone on to Broadway – these have earned more than forty Tony Award nominations and eight Tony Awards. In addition, Yale Rep has also received the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.

Over the course of its existence, Yale Rep has been leading the way in local, resident theaters – it was one of the first to transfer serious works to commercial theater. The Repertory has created and cultivated a production model that has altered the course of play development in the institution of American theatre.

Administrators found that the exterior of the Yale Repertory Theater did not match the dazzling theatre inside; the masonry and stonework were literally crumbling away. Standing tall for over 150 years, the theater was in need of renovation.

Custom Stonework and Tight Deadlines

Architects, engineers, and materials scientists from WJE Associates, along with restoration masons Universal Preservation Group of Middletown, CT turned to O&G’s Fabrication Center and Facility Manager, John Baranoski. His team received a list of the necessary custom stonework and a strict production schedule. O&G’s Masonry Division experts collaborated with the assembled specialists to overcome budget, design, and schedule challenges.

Tony Santangelo of Universal Preservation Group was pleased with both the quality and delivery of product. “O&G did a great job. We called this project a ‘summer slammer,’ because of the three-month schedule, so it was critical that we had the materials when we needed them, and we did. The whole process was very streamlined, from ticketing to quality control. O&G coordinated the lead times very well and everything arrived exactly as specified. The Brownstone product is excellent.”

The majority of the stonework, including the windowsills, window headers, banding, water table, base panel, buttress caps and coping – about 240 pieces in all – was outsourced to stay on schedule. The fabricator worked from shop tickets (dimensioned CAD drawings for every piece being made) that were prepared by O&G’s CAD and Technical Drafts Specialist, Katie Palmieri. Items less than 18 inches thick and three capitals, whose details had to be hand carved, were made in Beacon Falls.

Repair of, the Yale Repertory Theatre is now complete and ready to entertain theatre goers. O&G is pleased to have successfully entertained the possibility of updating the exterior masonry and stonework of historic and internationally known urban structure in downtown New Haven.

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