Patrons of Hopkins County have been sad to see the downtown Main Street Theater stranded during most of the COVID-19 pandemic. But fear not: from this Monday, the historic theater will undergo a total overhaul of its front and rear facades.
The history of the Main Street Theater building dates back to the late 1800s, according to its historical records, when downtown Sulfur Springs was first developed. Although not the current building, in 1919 the building housed Echo of Hopkins County and by 1957 a upholstery company was located there.
Community players were created long before they occupied their current building. In January 1978, they staged Sulfur Springs’ first dinner theater, located in the banquet area of ââthe Civic Center. Subsequent productions took place at the SSHS Gymnasium.
Beyond their wandering nature, the troupe moved to 225 Main Street in the fall of 1990. The local actors put on a production of Charlie’s Chocolate Factory at the Fall Festival, then put on their show in the new building. By all accounts, something beautiful was born. Meanwhile, according to the group, more than 1,300 productions have been staged.
However, the building quickly began to show its age.
âWe’ve been watching it for years,â said City Manager Marc Maxwell. âIn mid-2018 they ran cables over the roof to tie up the parapets and that delayed the inevitable. “
However, said Maxwell, “It’s time to do something permanent.”
In 2019, the troop asked the city to examine the deteriorating roof as it began to raise funds for other structural and cosmetic repairs.
âThe front and back walls of our building have deteriorated to such an extent that immediate action is needed,â noted an April 2021 release from the group.
Throughout April, the theater was in talks with city council for funds, and in the August 2021 budget sessions, city council stepped forward to provide $ 250,000 for theater repairs.
However, thanks to a generous donation from local construction company XLNT, the city will now only spend $ 170,000 as contractors donate their time to save the theater.
âThat’s a big thumbs up to them, it’s a big reason we were able to move forward quickly,â said Maxwell.
The theater also has fundraising efforts underway and, according to its GoFundMe account, it raised $ 845 of its goal of $ 150,000.
âAt the moment, there is not much to see,â admits Community Players. “The exterior is covered in plywood, a colorful promotional poster for his recent virtual performance of two Shakespeare classics pinned to it.”
However, for those who find their second home there, the space is “a place of entertainment and reconnection”.
The actors emphasize their role as both children’s and adult theater, stressing that it is “a platform for the performing arts. [designed to] bring together a community of all ages.
The theater will remain open during its renovation, hosting two events per month, according to city manager Marc Maxwell. Construction can take up to two months, Maxwell said, and a grand opening is slated for 2022, according to the group’s page.
âWe’ve always known that downtown is all the more lively before and after the show,â said Maxwell. âIt’s a noticeable difference. We want to expand it. We would like there to be other events – comedy, poetry, music. We want something to happen there.
Maxwell says that while the city is focusing on the front and back faÃ§ades for security reasons, the theater could wholeheartedly use more financial support.
âIt is indeed not just a theater building, but a whole world, and a world worth saving,â the group said.
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By Taylor Nye