“I'm totally devastated,” he said on Monday. “I'm just destroyed. I'm just totally destroyed.”
Scott has spent the past five years or so renovating the former Columbia Movie Theater.
He opened it for business in January, and hosted national acts like Shooter Jennings and the Misfits, among numerous smaller acts.
But a 3 a.m. fire destroyed much of the interior and left a large black burn mark on the backside of the building.
Scott said the fire appears to have started in the electrical room of the hall. But he said he has no idea of the cause.
“The police said someone saw somebody running away from the building around 3 a.m.,” Scott said. “They had dogs in there on Sunday and planned to bring in heavy equipment to sift through the debris today (Monday).”
There were no injuries in the fire, and Scott said the building is insured.
Scott's wife, Christine, is the Columbia's owner.
A strong burn smell permeated much of the block near the music hall, as firefighters kept onlookers from getting too close to the building.
Mayor Jim Kalb offered his sympathy to the Scott family and those who helped with the renovation.
“It was an extremely sad morning watching flames shoot out of the top of one of Portsmouth's main landmarks,” he said. “The Scott family had to watch years of hard work go up in smoke.”
Mark Teeters and Scott Shelpman of Allegro Music installed the sound system in the music hall.
“That's a lot of sound system to go up in smoke,” Teeters said.
Allegro is three doors down from the Columbia. But Teeters said he doesn't think his building was damaged.
“If it was, it was very little,” he said. “The fire department said there was no need to check it.”
Teeters and his band, Mindchaser, played music at the hall a couple of years ago to test the acoustics of the building.
The music hall has had its controversial moments and spurred Scott to lead the successful recall of former mayor Greg Bauer in 2004.
Scott said the city was trying to stop him from opening the building.
Fire officials are investigating the cause of the blaze and would not comment at this time.
JEFF BARRON can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.