The Rowland Theatre is getting back to its 1917 glory, one brick at a time.
The grand old lady of Philipsburg’s Front Street is having a little work done. The nonprofit Rowland Theatre Inc. board is having repairs done to the front wall near the marquee.
According to board member Christine Wilson, the repairs are hopefully a prelude to restoration of the historic glass and metal front piece of the old movie house’s entry.
“We would like to replace the marquee eventually,” she said. What they don’t want is to have the heavy period piece unable to be supported by crumbling brickwork, so they are taking care of that aspect now.
“We don’t have any grants or anything. This is the result of accumulating money through a lot of fundraisers in the community,” Wilson said.
The board’s fundraising has paid off recently, as it was able to repay a $32,000 federal loan that supplied half the cost of the theater’s new digital projection system. The other half came from the same program in the form of a grant.
“We could have taken years to pay it off,” Wilson said. Instead, they did it in less than a year, sparing the nonprofit the interest payments.
They hope to see additional fundraising pay for the marquee, but first they need a quote for just how much restoring it will cost.
“That’s where we are stuck right now. We are finally finding some people to help with the design,” Wilson said.
The problem is that few people work with the old-fashioned pieces, half art and half architecture. She said they have been in contact with a consultant who worked with the Ritz theater in New York for a similar project and hope to have a target soon.
In the meantime, the theater is working toward community projects. They screened “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” last week, an event they termed a “huge success,” complete with everything a good “Rocky Horror” screening is known for — like costumes, audience participation and more.
For the holidays, there will be a special presentation of “A Christmas Story” on Dec. 6, with door prizes including the infamous “major award” from the film, a fishnet leg lamp.
This weekend, the theater is working with the Philipsburg-Osceola Parent Teacher Organization to get kids and families into the theater with a special feature of the new release “Big Hero 6.” The PTO will provide tickets to district students, but they have to bring an adult. Wilson says similar events in the past have drawn large crowds.