Effort to save 100-year-old performing arts center gets boost from Bergen County

Monday marked a milestone for a Bergen County community that fought to save a local theater.

News 12 Staff

Aug 9, 2021, 10:35 PM

Updated 984 days ago

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Monday marked a milestone for a Bergen County community that fought to save a local theater.
Many people living in the county say that they have great memories surrounding the Williams Center for the Arts in Rutherford.
“We looked at this spot for our wedding because my husband had performed here,” says Annika Cioffi.
Cioffii became involved in an effort to save the center about six years ago.
“It is the way people communicate without words, sitting and watching someone else on stage, communicating through their part. There’s like nothing else,” she says.
Cioffi and many others believed that the nearly century-old building was in jeopardy of being torn down.
“My fear was that it was just going to get bulldozed over,” says musician Dawn Avagliano.
Avagliano joined the effort, believing the Williams Center is a much-needed cultural touchstone for Rutherford.
The county-owned property was scheduled to be sold this month, but a deal was announced last week in which Bergen County will turn over property to Rutherford. The Rutherford Council is expected to OK the move and announce a developer with preservation in mind.
The Williams Center shows movies in several of its auditoriums, but its main stage is closed and in disrepair.
Advocates for the nonprofit center hope its theater can be fixed and once again welcome audiences for live shows.


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