The Associated Press
GLASGOW, Ky. - The renovation of an aging but exquisite movie theater in Glasgow is just one of many going on in Kentucky, as cities look to lure people back to Main Street.
"Practically everyone who grew up here has memories of this place," Rhonda Trautman, director of the Renaissance Main Street program for Glasgow, said of The Plaza theater. The city bought it for $200,000 last year from a Barren County family and is working on a major renovation.
"We see this as a major hook that will help pull in other downtown projects," said Ms. Trautman. "... It's just something that the community has almost demanded."
In at least a dozen small Kentucky cities, preservationists, downtown developers and local officials are joining forces to renovate historic downtown theaters.
"They're an essential part of the mix in terms of getting people to come down to that area and stay in that area," said Terrance Demas, executive director of the League of Historic American Theatres.
But in Kentucky, renovation projects on such buildings are in various stages of completion in Ashland, Benham, Bowling Green, Cumberland, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, Harrodsburg, Hopkinsville, Maysville, Springfield and Winchester, in addition to Glasgow.
Years ago, the Kentucky Heritage Council compiled a list of 51 historic theaters still standing in the state. But many of them have been demolished since then, said Scot Walters, a historic preservationist for the council.
In Glasgow, the Plaza building - with its separate entrances from the days of segregation - survived, although it needs a new roof, new plumbing, a stage expansion, extensive mold removal, rebuilt seats, rewiring and a climate control system. Including the purchase price, the renovation project will cost about $1.8 million and will take about five years to complete.
Glasgow Mayor Charles Honeycutt said the renovation could have an impact on the owners of other downtown buildings, encouraging them to make improvements.
"When we get it really fixed up as a showplace, I think that's a definite encouragement for others to take pride in their buildings," he said.
Roger Stapleton, state coordinator for the Kentucky Main Street program, said renovations of historic theaters are "a critical component" of downtown revitalization projects.
"It's not the sole turnaround component for the downtown," he said. "Obviously the downtown is no longer going to be the retail center it was in the '50s and '60s, but there has to be a good mix providing for a 24-hour life cycle."
The old theaters create a natural anchor, said Mr. Demas.
"For many communities the theater was where they all got together on a Friday or Saturday night."
TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Brent Spence Bridge is nearly out of time
Big Boom spawns many a big bash
Big names on VIP list for Cinergy demolition
Home values jump 2%-48%
Coalition pushes for discounts on drugs
Powerball winner plans to share $111M
Car Control Clinic inspired by teen deaths
Court holds $1.9M in unclaimed funds
Sycamore community center revisited
School follows Buckeye theme
AROUND THE TRISTATE
Cultural program opens Kwanzaa
Race tickets cost more, easier to get
Tristate A.M. Report
Good News: Students get a taste of music in jam sessions
Obituary: Harrison Warrener ran insurance firm
BRONSON: Cook your own news this week
SMITH AMOS: Emergency contraceptives do their job
Ex-husband charged in beating
College will buy homes to protect neighborhood
Boy's collection to fund scholars
House fire leaves family with nothing
Ky. Dems mobilize for 2003
Police search for suspect in Christmas Eve killing
Lincoln statue won't be embraced by all
Old theaters renovated to spruce up downtowns
Three longtime staffers of Jewish newspaper retiring