Can the Smith Baker Center Be Revived as a Community & Cultural Hub?





Smith Baker Tony sampas

A community forum to discuss the future of the Smith Baker Center as a community and cultural center is set for Tuesday, April 28, 5.30 pm, at the Senior Center on Broadway St.  The top image is a conceptual design showing large identity banners featuring Jack Kerouac, Bette Davis, and James McNeill Whistler, three world-class cultural icons. Not many cities can claim three artists of international stature. Many organizations and agencies have produced and presented programs in the Smith Baker Center, including Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!, UMass Lowell, Middlesex Community College, Lowell National Historical Park, Lowell Memorial Auditorium, National Council for the Traditional Arts, Lowell Opera Company, and Command Performance. On its stage, audiences have enjoyed appearances by Maya Angelou, Allen Ginsberg, John Updike, Patti Smith and her band, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tal Farlow and the Masters of the Steel String Guitar with John Cephas, and many others. 

(The conceptual design for the top image is by Higgins and Ross. The top two photographs are by James Higgins (c) and used with permission of the photographer. The bottom photograph is by Tony Sampas (c) and is used with Tony’s permission.)


3 Responses to Can the Smith Baker Center Be Revived as a Community & Cultural Hub?

  1. Mary Hart says:

    What was the building used for originally? It looks beautiful, and I like Jim’s banner concept…What other space is in the building? Classrooms/meeting rooms? Kitchen? Other facilities? It reminds me a bit of Winchester City Hall.

  2. PaulM says:

    Mary: The building was a church for decades. When it was acquired by the City of Lowell it was used as a kind of town hall for all kinds of meetings and assemblies. Gradually, it became a preferred location for medium-sized performances, presentations, etc. Music concerts, author talks, small-scale theatre, and other arts events were scheduled in the building. The lower level, which is a large open space surrounded by small office and work areas, was used for many years as the home of the Elder Services program. When the new Senior Center on Broadway was built, the elder programs moved there.

  3. Brian says:

    Dave Ouellette of the CBA wants to eliminate metered parking on Dummer Street to make room for long term residential parking. If this happens the small businesses on Market, Worthen, and Oconnell Pkwy will suffer. I don’t think hurting small business in The Acre is good for the CBA. Mr Ouellette should instead be fighting for the urban scar of Dutton St to be reverted back to human scale so economic activity and opportunity migrates his way.

    Meanwhile C Leahy thinks there’s not enough parking near the Smith Baker Center. Ugh.