• June 17, 2016

    Logan, UT - Utah Theatre To Open After a Decade Of Restoration


    From When Michael Ballam, the founding general director of the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, came home from sabbatical in Italy 10 years ago, he saw the Utah Theatre at 18 W. Center St. – closed at the time – and knew instantly he wanted to reopen it.

    His vision was it would be something for everyone. “It’s going to be a unique theater in Northern Utah,” Ballam said. “It will be able to do things that we cannot do in the (Ellen) Eccles Theatre or any other theater north of Salt Lake City, and this will allow us to do essentially any kind of performance imaginable.” The Utah Theatre used to show movies only. In its restoration, however, the plan is to host performances, organ concerts, silent and classic films. Restoration of the theater began in 2006 with the hope of completing it by 2008. However, as crews put more effort into the restoration, they realized more work needed to be done.

    While they were digging a pit for an organ chamber to make room for a 1930’s Wurlitzer organ, crews hit a lot of water 11 feet down, a couple hundred of gallons a minute, UFOMT Managing Director Gary Griffin said.

    The UFOMT then put in extra expenses for the organ so it could withstand the flow. “We poured four-and-a-half feet of reinforced concrete underwater, put a membrane, poured the walls and then pumped the water out, and put another membrane,” Griffin said. “So that organ chamber is setting in about four feet of water.” Ballam said he hopes people who visit the theater realize what a jewel box it is. To show its capability, the Utah Theatre’s first performance will be “Peter Pan,” a performance Ballam said will demonstrate freedom, youth and magic – all qualities of the restored Utah Theatre. d more. Ballam said the theater will not play movies that are playing in nearby cinemas because they don’t want to arouse concerns of competition.

  • June 14, 2016

    Fayette, WV - Historic Fayette Theater begins renovation project


    From the Fayette Tribune: The Historic Fayette Theater has served the community of Southern West Virginia for the past 23 years. However, the historic building in which it is located has had some limitations. The restrooms are currently located on the second floor, accessible only by a flight of steps. Creating handicap-accessible restrooms has long been a priority for the HFT’s Board of Directors and this summer the renovation work will finally commence.

    The entire lobby will be renovated and will include two handicap-accessible bathrooms. This work will be funded in part by a generous fund dedicated to the memory of Alice Todaro.

    Alice Todaro was long time supporter of the arts in general and the Historic Fayette Theater in particular. She served on the Board of Directors and regularly attended performances. She even appeared in several productions, telling people that the role she liked the best was when she shot the prop gun simulating the assassination of Teddy Roosevelt in Gene Worthington’s rendition of Bully.

  • May 26, 2016

    Lynchburg, VA - Historic Academy Theatre surpasses campaign goal


    From The historic Academy Theatre in Lynchburg reached their campaign goal to restore and reopen the theater.

    Not only have they reached the goal, they surpassed it.

    The campaign’s original goal was to raise $16.6 million dollars.

    However, they report to ABC 13 that they raised $16.75 million dollars.

    This means that the Academy Theatre will begin a fast-tracked construction schedule in June.

    They plan to reopen in 2018.

    While the goal has been met, they will continue to accept donations to reserve funds for contingencies.

  • May 25, 2016

    Momence, IL - New Life on Horizon for 92-year-old Momence Theatre


    From the Washington Times: The overhaul of the Momence Theater is in its final stages but is still in need of a cash injection to get the final upgrades completed.

    When this money comes in, members of the Momence Theatre Friends, the management organization for the North Dixie Highway property, believe the building could be ready to host visitors within 30-45 days.

    The return to use for the approximate 3,400-square-foot property has been years in the making. Plans to redevelop the building – built in 1924 – began in 2006.

    “Kankakee County needs this theater because we need more community arts involvement,” said Keri Perkins, treasurer of the Friends organization. “This could really help Momence develop.”

    Started as a location for vaudeville-type performances, the theater became a location for first-run films and then X-rated movies. The theater eventually closed in the 1970s and, other than one or two events, has not been used since.

    Purchased by John Sokol, an Aroma Township businessman, in 2013 from Mark Noeller for $77,000, Sokol always believed the theater would be something managed and operated by and for the community.

  • May 21, 2016

    Cleveland, OH - Historic Ohio Theatre lobby re-created 52 years after fire destroyed 1921 original


    From Playhouse Square is turning back the clock 95 years in the Ohio Theatre lobby Thursday by unveiling a spectacular re-creation of the long-lost neo-Renaissance interior designed by architect Thomas Lamb.

    The original largely burned to a crisp in 1964, leaving little trace of its ornate splendor. Now, however, it’s 1921 all over again.

    The cove-lighted barrel vault high overhead drips with scores of square yards of swags, medallions and floral motifs painted in delicately stippled shades of salmon pink, beige, dusty green and Pompeian red, accented by touches of gold.

    Lamb, described as a “king of theaters” in his 2008 New York Times obituary, would have been proud.

  • May 17, 2016

    Steubenville, OH - Grand Theater Work Bolstered By Grants


    From Two separate grants for work on the Grand Theater will help bring the community landmark back to life.

    The stage at the Grand Theater used to host casts of performances before it closed in 1979. For the past 6 years, a theater restoration group has been working to get it back to its former glory.

    Now, two grants they just received are bringing them one step closer to completion.

    The historic walls of the Grand Theater hold years of movies, performances and parties. Scott Dressell, with the Grand Theater restoration project, is working to make that history a part of Steubenville’s future.

    “We really need a destination for entertainment downtown to turn around the lack of activity and the Grand will definitely provide that,” Dressell said.

    The group just received two grants to continue the work on the interior and exterior of the building.

    Dressell said the changes will “bring it back to what it looked like in 1924.”

    A $70,000 Community Development Block grant will help repair the façade, and a $75,000 grant from the state will help repair the decorative interior.

    “It’s the last theater of the five that used to be here so to lose this would be tragic,” Dressell said.

    There’s still a long way to go but none of the work would have been possible this year without this funding. Dressell believes the funding will have a big payoff in the long run for the community.

    “In every other city where a theater’s been restored, it really makes a big difference economically,” Dressell said.

    The exterior is expected to be completed sometime this summer. The interior work should start in the fall.

    Photos courtesy of

  • May 10, 2016

    Collinsville, AL - Noble Signs Restores Historic Cricket Theatre Marquee


    From The Anniston Star – David Lewis, a graphic designer for Anniston’s Noble Signs, says restoration projects don’t account for much of the company’s business.

    “A lot of times restoring something is a bigger pain in the butt than building it from scratch,” Lewis said.

    But bringing back the art deco, post-war era marquee and sign from Collinsville’s Cricket Theatre is worth it for the city’s historical association.

    “Without the marquee, actually, it’s just another building” association member Jimmy Carter said in a phone interview Friday.

    Noble Signs in December started working up drawings for the new marquee. They did so based on artist renderings of the theater, which hasn’t shown a movie since the 1960s.

    According to Lewis, the Cricket’s sign had been stored outside on farmland for years. Despite that, Noble Sign workers have refinished much of the marquee’s half-a-century-old metal. They’ve also bent glass letters that will spell the theater’s name in blazing neon.

  • May 6, 2016

    Seal Beach, CA - Bay Theatre Has a Buyer With a Vision


    From the Orange County Register: As a younger man, Paul Dunlap dreamed of being another Bill Graham, the late rock promoter of such groups as the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

    On a weekday morning standing in front of the long-closed Bay Theatre in Seal Beach, Dunlap can almost see that vision coming true. The iconic building on Main Street could be his latter-day Fillmore. Albeit a much tamer version of the famous San Francisco concert hall.

    A lifelong patron of the arts and a preservationist, the Fullerton developer and founder of the Dunlap Property Group says he wants not only to bring back the Bay Theatre as a moviehouse, but can also see it serving as a space for music and art.

    “I think we can create a place that’s a draw not only for the community but for the surrounding area,” said Dunlap, 61, who is in escrow for the $2.25 million building and said he expects to spend $1 million to fix it up.

    On Monday, he will introduce himself to the community at a City Council meeting and lay out his ideas. He also hopes to be a part of community workshops to gain input and insights from residents and council members.

    “I intend to present my vision,” he said. “From that point we’ll move forward. Ultimately it’s a community theater. I need to reflect their wishes.”

    Ultimately though, he said he’d like to see the building fulfill its original mission: to bring a cultural element to the community.

  • Vincennes, IN - Building Community Support Key to Restoring Downtown Theatres


    From Local historian Dennis Latta practically floated out of the small Thursday Church classroom after listening to the compelling stories of how three Indiana cities turned their suffering communities around by restoring beloved community theaters on Thursday morning .

    “Wasn’t that a hoot?!” he asked, his hands shooting into the air with excitement. “I mean, what a miracle. Wow. Such beautiful renditions, LED lights.

    “Can’t you just see the Pantheon like that?”

    Nearly 300 Hoosier historic preservationists are in Vincennes this week as a part of the Indiana Statewide Preservation Conference, the organization’s biggest ever, according to local coordinators.

    Participants all this week have been sitting in on sessions focused on “Preserving Historic Places,” and one Thursday entitled “Raising the Curtain on Long-Forgotten Theaters” focused on three theaters: the newly-restored Princeton Theatre in Princeton, The Historic ArtCraft Theatre in Franklin and Fowler Theatre in Benton County.

    Their individual stories, while varied, shared striking similarities, with efforts centered around a group of historic preservationists who had a dream and a community that rallied to the cause.

  • Flint, MI - Capitol Theatre Project at Risk if No Tax Freeze


    From A $21 million plan to reopen the historic Capitol Theatre in downtown Flint could be dead if the Flint City Council doesn’t give the OK to transfer a 12-year tax freeze on the property.

    The City Council narrowly approved holding a public hearing on the freeze and an official with the project said it may not move forward if the council says no.

    “I don’t see how the Capitol Theatre will be able to move forward without the (tax freeze). The project was very thin,” said Tim Herman, president of Uptown Reinvestment Corp and chief executive officer of the Flint & Genesee Chamber.

    The tax freeze was first approved in 2013 when the city was under the control of a state-appointed financial manager, but the theater was sold to a non-profit group and Herman said developers need the tax freeze transferred for the project to move forward.

    “We’re so close now. This (tax freeze) will make the Capital Theatre a success and a game-changer for downtown Flint,” said Herman.