• Cliff Grassmick

    Nick Forster leans against a pew inside the church at Spruce and 16th Street in Boulder and talks about his plans to remodeled it into Etown Hall, featuring a concert hall, recording studio and offices.

  • Cliff Grassmick

    Once remodeled, the old church at Spruce and 16th Street in Boulder will look much different -- and be far more environmentally friendly -- than it does in this photo today, according to "etown" founder Nick Forster, who is spearheading the project.



BOULDER, Colo. –

The founder of “etown” this week got one step closer to his dream of establishing a concert hall, studio and offices in downtown Boulder.

The Boulder-based nonprofit radio show inked a development agreement with the city Thursday to renovate a more than 80-year-old church off 16th and Spruce streets into Etown Hall. The organization — which has tried to put the plan in motion for much of its 18-year history and has been knee-deep in city processes for years — expects to spend more than $2.5 million on the renovation and hopes to begin the nine-month construction project in June.

“It’s been a full-court press for years,” said Nick Forster, “etown” founder and host, who runs the organization with his wife, Helen.

Now, it’s just a matter of getting further permitting and “reconvening” with his bank on a construction loan.

“The lending environment has changed,” Forster said. “Getting a construction loan is going to be a big challenge.”

But the idea and vision behind Etown Hall, should be well worth it for both “etown” and the Boulder community, he said. Forster said he plans to pay back the loan within three years and hopes to do so with the help of “etown’s” listeners, friends and patrons through a fund-raising campaign.

Forster stood behind the rows of wooden pews — seats “etown” plans to keep — on Friday and leaned over an old photo of the church. In the 1930s and early 40s, the First Church of the Nazarene boasted exposed bricks and a Rose window and carried a look that’s quite different than the stuccoed, somewhat boxy appearance of today.

To make his dream become reality, Forster and the “etown” crew assembled a team made up of architects and contractors from the local community, along with lighting and sound experts from across the United States.

The exterior will get a face-lift, including removing the stairs to allow for plenty of windows and a more open vestibule, he said. The idea is to take advantage of the building’s south-facing positioning to save on interior heating. Forster said that change alone could help Etown Hall use 28 percent less heat.

Falling in line with “etown’s” environmentally friendly focus, the organization intends to install solar panels on the roof, reuse greywater, and recycle or reuse building materials, Forster said, adding the aim is to build the first zero-carbon performance and media space in the nation.

Along with the nave and sanctuary areas, the 16,000-square-foot building also includes three floors of attached office space, a basement with a kitchen and a gymnasium. Additions and modifications to the building were completed at different times over the years, giving the building a “Frankenstein” look and a unique rejuvenation project, said Jim Walker, senior associate at Wolff Lyon Architects and project manager of the renovation.

“We want to scrape some of those old things off and turn it into a beautiful asset to the city,” Walker said.

The sanctuary and nave will be home to the 200-person capacity Etown Hall, where performances could take place up to three times a week. “Etown” will move its offices and establish post-production operations in the adjoining office building. The basement will serve as a community room and gathering area. A recording studio and sound stage are expected to fill the gym.

While “etown” owns and operates the building, Forster said he envisions the property being used by musical acts, neighborhood groups and other organizations such as the Conference on World Affairs and the Boulder International Film Festival.

“There’s opportunity for this to be a real resource for the community,” he said.

Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or wallacea@dailycamera.com.

Archived comments

put some glass on the roof!


3/27/2009 11:37:23 PM

Shall I repeat my E-Town experience….These people DO NOT represent our community.


3/28/2009 9:24:26 AM

I don’t agree with everything they say, but certainly they are a great asset to our community, and I am glad they are continuing to contribute to it.


3/28/2009 10:00:21 AM

This is so exciting and I’m very much looking forward to seeing this take shape! Kudos for all your dedication and hard work. Go Nick and Helen!


3/28/2009 10:03:43 AM

Why can’t they contnue to use the boulder theater?


3/28/2009 10:05:44 AM

I remember when they used to have it at Boulder High School.


3/28/2009 11:50:34 AM

More like “whites only” hall.I’ve never seen a whiter gathering of people even in Boulder in my whole life, and that’s saying something.


3/28/2009 1:44:14 PM

I did a year of a Course of Miracles at that church and saw Alan Ginsburg perform Howl in an E-town production at the Boulder Theater.


3/28/2009 2:56:36 PM

“whites only” hall? I never saw a sign on the front of Boulder Theater that said “colored people use the back exit”. Anyone can come to Etown, the tickets are available online and they aren’t that expensive either.

I think what you need to be saying is that Boulder is more of a Caucasian community than the diverse crowd it thinks it is. I would agree on that statement for sure.


3/28/2009 6:44:49 PM

nah, nukes in Boulder hates everything and is an uncultured moron, is more of white he means.


3/28/2009 7:29:25 PM

‘”whites only” hall? I never saw a sign on the front of Boulder Theater that said “colored people use the back exit”‘

I’ve been to two E-Town events, and was amazed that every single face was white both times.It’s like the music version of telemarking or road biking or something: elite whites surround themselves exclusively with other elite whites by choice.Very odd choice.


3/28/2009 7:47:32 PM

Wow, I telemark, I’m a white boy, and have never considered myself an elitist. How friggin’ rascist of you, NIB, to make that kind of comment.


3/28/2009 9:30:25 PM

E-Town is the best Sunday way to start your week. It is uniquely Boulder.Good luck on this project.


3/28/2009 11:47:50 PM

E-Town and their little “click” of the Foresters friends is the BIGGEST SCAM in Boulder. They claim they are Non-Profit…however I would love to see how much the Forester’s take out before they make that claim. I would LOVE to see the results of an AUDIT of the E-Town books.


3/29/2009 10:33:14 AM

No mention of an acoustic expert in the re-model plans of this music venue.It is after all in the famously NIMBY Whittier neighborhood.Probably lost in the writing, but just asking.One might recall Nick was in the thick of the battle pushing Barrel House II out of the neighborhood when it converted from The Atlantic Pearl, and all the horror resulting from the Rio growth and move into the current Sunflower space, yeah got that noisy business out of the neighborhood as well. Just wondering.


3/30/2009 3:09:55 PM

This sounds great, go Nick!


3/31/2009 9:53:30 AM