Last Updated on June 8, 2016 by cassnetwork
Guest Column by Barry Taylor, State Theatre Preservation Society CFO/Treasurer
You have likely heard that a non-profit was formed to restore the State Theatre in downtown Logansport, Ind. Several theatres around the state have been restored through both community and grant funding support. One such facility is the Fowler Theatre in Fowler, Ind.
Kevin Burkett, CEO of the State Theatre Preservation Society, and I took a trip to Fowler to see for ourselves what can be accomplished when a community supports such a project. We were given a tour of the facility, and to say we were astounded is an understatement.
Fowler, Ind., is a small town located in Benton county, 30 minutes northwest of Lafayette on Highway 52. With a population of 2,274, this small, quaint town seems an unlikely location for a theatre restoration. Fowler has a per-capita income of $21,742 and a 65% participation in either reduced or freeschool lunches. So, how could such a small community undertake the monumental task of restoring a1940s era theatre?
The Fowler Theatre was constructed in 1940. According to the Fowler Theatre website, in spring of 2001, the theatre ceased showing movies. The owner planned to sell the remaining architecturally interesting pieces from the inside of the theatre — including the original marquee — and convert the building into a warehouse.
Not wanting to see this happen, several volunteers formed the Prairie Preservation Guild, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the theatre. The theatre was reopened in December 2001 showing free movies. Over the next several years, through community support and grant funding, the theatre was restored.
The Fowler Theatre is a 230-seat single-screen digital theatre staffed with volunteer help. Much of the Art Deco decor was restored and enhanced. After restoration, it become a crown jewel attraction in downtown Fowler.
The Fowler Theatre was awarded the Cook Cup, an award given through Indiana Landmarks for the best restoration where the location is used for its original purpose.
This brings me to the inspirational aspect of the visit: If a town the size of Fowler can undertake and achieve an incredible restoration of a local theatre, Logansport can surely come together to do the same with the State Theatre.
The goals of the State Theatre Preservation Society are preserving, restoring, and operating the historic State Theatre, providing low-cost or free use of the facility by other charitable or non-profit organizations, providing use of the theatre for live performances, movie screenings and theatrical production to help enrich the lives of Cass County residents, and help embolden the efforts of downtown revitalization.
Though the project is in its infancy, we need the support of the community. Though we understand significant financial support would be limited to a small number of people, every donation helps.
As part of our project, we must have an architectural, mechanical, and baseline structural study completed at a cost of $16,000. The information from the study will be used when submitting grant applications.
If only 2,000 Cass County residents (that’s only about 5% of the Cass County population) gave a donation of $10 each, we could raise $20,000 to cover the cost of the study and have funds left over for other expenses. This is why every donation helps.
If you would like to be a part of the effort to restore the State Theatre and help create our own crown jewel, visit www.statetheatrelive.com and click the donate button.
You can also visit the Fowler Theatre website at www.fowlertheatre.com.
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