Foundation looks to lift curtain on century-old theater

Community

HOOPESTON, Ill (WCIA) — “When we reopen, we’re looking at the fact that it’s going to be the community center for all kinds of events,” explained Jim Richards.”

You can hear the optimism in Richards’ voice when he talks about the future of the Lorraine Theatre.

But it’s unclear when the doors of the Lorraine will open again.

“Timeline-wise, I can’t give you an answer,” explained Richards, the president of the Save the Lorraine Foundation. “If we had the money, if we had $500,000, we’d finish it.”

The building went into foreclosure in 2012. That’s when a local group of people decided to try and save it.

“We’re about halfway to where we want to be with the renovation of this building,” said Richards.

That’s thanks in large part to grants, fundraisers and donations. In fact, the building itself was a donation.

The theatre was in far worse condition when the foundation took control.

“We couldn’t open the door; we had mold, mildew; it was really a battle,” Richards said.

But there was another smaller theater that did help the foundation bring in some cash to pay for utilities, insurance and other costs.

“What we did have and what we did get with this was another, secondary theater called Little Lorraine and it was operational and Fast and Furious 6 was our first movie and we started running movies as was,” explained Richards.

That’s not all.

“[We] got a grant for some of the tuck pointing; some of it was donations,” explained Richards. “We did it brick by brick. There’s a plaque on the side that shows the people who donated to that cause. “

The Lorraine Theatre was open almost 100 years ago and while the renovations inside have taken almost a decade, they’re hoping it doesn’t take another decade before they start selling tickets again.

“We started this building to show the people of Hoopeston and the surrounding area that for a small town, if you have faith, you have confidence, then you can change the dynamics of your town and not let it die away,” Richards said.

The group’s next major project is putting a new roof on the theatre.

You can donate to save the Lorraine here.

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