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    Ted Killmer
Post by On 27 March 2014 In DisH Living (downtown is happening) Blog


Take a look at #155 from across Danbury's Main Street and you'll see a nondescript row of storefronts that don't justify the history and architecture of what once was called "Town Street," recognized in 1983 as the city's only historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In an old issue of the Fairfield Weekly, one discovers that the building was built around 1850. "It originally opened as a vaudeville house called the Princess Theatre and its surviving flyers and advertisements betray a colorful history. When motion pictures arrived, the Princess was transformed and its name changed to the Empress Theatre in time to host a preview of D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking film 'America' in 1924. The Palace and the Empress became side-by-side movie theatres owned by Warner Bros. and were a focal point of activity in downtown Danbury. The Empress closed around 1969." The stage portion of the original building is now the Heirloom Arts Theatre, the Palace Walk showcase for live indie music. Ghosts have been sighted.

Enter #155 and you're faced by an imposing, and impossibly long, set of stairs; for most, inhibiting any further exploration. But explore I must and up I climb. I arrive at an odd maze of hallways, stairs and offices. Not your usual 9 to 5 layout, this once bustling backstage of dressing rooms, costume shops, and fly spaces. The building seems a warren of cultural creatives and enterprise. Becoming ever more and more enticed and after descending a short staircase (!?), I arrive at the offices of Benay Enterprises, Inc. where I am to meet with company president Dawn Reshen-Doty, who refreshingly encapsulates the legacies of a Main Street we don't know.

"I made a conscious choice for Benay Enterprises to be centered here," she says. "I wanted to be a part of downtown Danbury's revitalization - nurturing strengths, not just fitting in." The company's high end "back office" services (visit www.benay.com for details) are provided to a clientele of independent publishers, attorneys, select nonprofits, international retailers, and authors  who need the back up  to do what they do best. With a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University (diplomacy and Japanese!), the Danbury High School graduate comes with a formidable pedigree and an independent streak. "I became the president of Benay Enterprises in 2010 upon the retirement of my business partner and father, Neil Reshen." The father of the "enthusiastic, Indefatigable entrepreneurial cheerleader, business-world match-maker, eternally optimistic Idea generator" (from her Linkedin profile) may have claimed the same. "The Connecticut-based gruff" (Ed Ward, The Austin Chronicle, December 29, 2006) managed and did accounting for such music industry luminaries as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Miles Davis, and Frank Zappa, fiercely independent talents whose quests for artistic freedom necessitated an equally fearless agent. (Dawn admits that Frank Zappa once slept in the top bunk in her bedroom.) From father to daughter to Main Street. Behind it all. Solid gold. 


The DisH (overheard): "It's the Arts, goddamn it!" Shall we get right to the point?

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Read 2720 times Last modified on Thursday, 27 March 2014 19:21



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