The Harlem theater where Ella Fitzgerald got her start needs an infusion of millions to complete the final phase of its restoration and expansion.
Yesterday the nonprofit Apollo Theater Foundation, launched in 1991, announced a campaign to raise $45.5 million for the theater's restoration, which has been under way since 2001.
Built in 1914, the Apollo was closed to blacks until 1928. Today, with 1.3 million annual visitors, it's Harlem's most popular tourist attraction and New York City's third-most visited site.
So far, the nonprofit has spent $37 million to restore the Apollo's marquee and terra cotta exterior and upgrade its systems. For the last phase, architects from New York-based Beyer Blinder Belle will focus on the interior: widen the lobby, add a grand stairway and 4,000 square feet of space, and restore ornate details in the auditorium.
The theater has been open throughout the project but will close in January 2010 for about nine months. The renovation is scheduled to be done in 2010.