Friday, June 09, 2017 - Updated: 8:32 AMBy Michele Longworth
A quote by Buckminster Fuller says, “The best way to predict the future is to design it.” That quote is included in the June-July newsletter for Save the Massac Theatre (STM) and is exactly what President Lisa Gower is doing when it comes to the renovation of the old theatre building.
Gower says often people will ask her, ‘Are you going to be able to save it?’ “This is going to happen. We will succeed and the Massac Theatre will be wonderful,” she said.
She sees the theatre as being a key building to help revitalize Metropolis’ economy.
At a recent community work day, on April 19, several people showed up to help clean out debris and sweep. “It was joyful,” said Gower, who said everybody was involved and afterward even had other people telling her they were sorry that they missed it.
But not to worry, for all those people who could not attend the first community day, another one is scheduled for Saturday, June 24 and will need more volunteers to help haul debris from the theatre to the dumpster. According to Gower, with the help of Mayor Billy McDaniel and Bulldog Systems, they have been able to situate a dumpster in front of the theatre in order for easier disposal of the debris that is cleared out of the theatre.
Big things have already happened for the organization, which officially began in 2009. The organization has received three grants — one from the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and the second one came through Landmarks Illinois Trust, the same organization which named the Massac Theatre to the 2010 Most Endangered Historic Sites in Illinois.
The third grant came from Thrivant Insurance Company and enabled the organization to host the community clean up day and remove water damaged debris from the theatre in order to prepare for construction. Gower says at the next clean up day, volunteers will remove more debris along with unnecessary walls and flooring from the balcony area.
According to Gower, there are two more grants — one that will be available to apply for this summer and another that will be available in early January 2018. She said she always has her eyes open for grant opportunities that would help STM.
More work is scheduled to take place inside the theatre in mid- to late-summer. Gower said DK Masonry will head the project of repairing a major masonry wall that has suffered water damage.
Gail White and Nick Williams, from White and Borgognoni, the architectural firm from Carbondale that completed the feasibility study on the theatre for the City of Metropolis, have completed a set of floor plans for the theatre.
Gower explained the floor plans are a necessary tool for proceeding with the renovations and fundraising efforts. The floor plan will officially be revealed on July 8 during the Massac Theatre Block Party, which will be an evening of entertainment, food and movies.
Everyone will have the opportunity to see the floor plan at that time.
She said the theatre will feature a “green room” or party area that can be rented out. That area will be where the old balcony area was. Gower said in the past, when walking up to the top of the existing stairs, a person would look up to the balcony. The stairs will still be used in the new floor plan, but at the top of the stairs, a person would look down to see the new balcony.
There will be mens and womens bathrooms both upstairs and downstairs, each having two stalls plus one handicapped accessible stall. An elevator will also be installed in the building.
The stage will be bigger and will have curtains and rigging. There will be boys and girls dressing rooms and yes, it will have a movie screen.
Even though the theatre may look old, Gower says everything inside will be “state-of-the-art.” The process of renovating the theatre has been a long one, but she says “We’re doing it right.”
Gower foresees schools using the theatre for school plays and musicals. “The possibilities are endless,” said Gower, who said she could also see bands performing at the theatre.
The theatre will be able to seat 380 people and she says that from all of the conferences she has attended and from the research and education she has done into this project, that number is the “sweet spot.”
She feels the building will be able to help establish more of a “nightlife” to Metropolis and will help with the economic development.
At the upcoming block party on July 8, STM will serve food and feature live entertainment and a night time move. In addition to that, STM hope to show off its promotional video that was filmed several years ago.
Gower also explained she has reached out to representatives of the Job Corp that work with the local carpenter’s hall about the possibility of having youth from the program to assist in making repairs to the theatre. “We have had a preliminary inspection but still have a couple more hoops to jump through,” said Gower, who went on to say the prospect of utilizing Job Corp students looks promising. “We are enthusiastically hopeful,” she said.
By far one of the biggest expense STM will incur will be that of the old marquee. Gower said with today’s technology, there are LED lights in tubes that could be used to light up the marquee and would be easy to replace and less costly to light.
During this year’s Superman Celebration there will be a few ways people can help STM.
On Saturday, the Breakfast with Superheroes fundraiser will directly benefit the organization. Parents and children can start their busy day with a breakfast including biscuits and gravy, sausage, scrambled eggs and a choice of orange juice, milk or coffee and children will have the opportunity to have photos taken with their favorite superheroes and will receive a special souvenir.
The breakfast will take place at Happy Hearts, located at 701 Market St. Session A will be held from 7-8 a.m., with a second Session B being held from 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children.
Also on Saturday evening the Superman Celebration Auction will be held and proceeds from the sales at the auction will help STM. The auction will also be held at Happy Hearts. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. and an admission fee of $5 will be collected at the door. Hors d’houvres will be served, and items will be on display to preview before the auction begins at 5 p.m.
The organization is also selling chances on a new bicycle, which will also be given away during this weekend’s Superman Celebration.
Gower reminds people who frequently use Amazon to be sure to go to Amazon Smile first and choose Save The Massac as the charity, and Amazon will donate .5 percent of the purchase to STM.
To make a donation directly to STM, send donations to Save the Massac, c/o 600 Ferry St., Metropolis, IL 62960. Individuals may email email@example.com or visit the website at www.savethemassac.com.