It will be the end of an era in St. John’s next month, when The Majestic closes its doors for good.
The live theatre, which has seen numerous revivals over the past decade, has been sold to the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland, The Telegram has learned. The posted asking price was $1,050,000.
Since the paperwork is still being done, the organization declined to say how it will use the building, but there’s speculation it will be turned into a soup kitchen. “I can confirm that yes, we have bought it. We don’t have ownership yet; the deal hasn’t been closed,” Pastor Gary Andrews said late Wednesday afternoon.
According to the facility’s website, The Majestic was built in 1822 as a venue for new amateur theatre. The building burned to the ground by fires in 1845 and 1895, but was rebuilt each time and has been home to a furniture factory, cinema, dinner theatre program, and — in perhaps its most popular reincarnation — a nightclub; the reputation as such it just couldn’t seem to shake.
“The problem with the venue is it got laid out as a dance bar in the ‘80s, and trying to turn it back to a live entertainment (venue), properly situation to have good viewings and from everywhere is an expensive venture,” owner Pete Quinton told The Telegram. “I’ve been picking at it. We put in a sound system for proper production and things, but it’s cost us a significant amount of money over the past couple of years.
“We said, with the town buzzing and things going on, that we’d test the market and put it up and see what happens. We got a significant offer on it, which we accepted.”
Quinton said he had asked for an extension on the closing date of the sale in order to accommodate some events already planned for The Majestic, but the Pentecostal Assemblies hasn’t responded to the request.
In recent months, the Majestic has hosted performances by the likes of Ron Sexsmith, burlesque shows and film screenings, but with a capacity of close to 600 people, one of its most popular recent uses is as a wedding reception venue. Quinton and his staff have had to cancel close to 30 wedding receptions scheduled to take place in the facility over the next couple of years, and have encountered some upset brides when breaking the news. They’re not leaving them entirely in the lurch, however, and have been working with other facilities around town to give engaged couples some options for alternate places to hold their weddings.
Quinton, an experienced businessman in the downtown area, said he’s got not plans to open another live entertainment space, but would consider it if he came across the right opportunity. The space would have to have a lot going for it, though, he said, in terms of location and layout.
“It takes a lot of energy and time to develop a space like that,” he said. “I’m just not ready to take the challenge of making that work. Maybe if I was 10 years younger.”
He said he thinks a soup kitchen just might be the perfect use for the space.
“As far as what we understand with the Pentecostal church, they’re going to be doing some kind of an outreach program, which would be good for the downtown core, to help the less fortunate,” he said. “It’s got a brand-new commercial kitchen and it’s in a good location and I think it would help and add to the downtown. Maybe that’s it’s best use ever.”
This article has been changed to fix an error.