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In 2007, the future of The Franklin Theatre did not look bright. Plans were already in the works to sell the building but Emily Magid, board member for Heritage Foundation, The Franklin Theatre, and Vice President of Williamson Animal Services, Inc. donated $2 million to The Franklin Theatre, saving it from being sold.

But now the Heritage Foundation had the even more daunting task of revitalizing and renovating what had turned into an old rundown venue.

Saving the Franklin Theatre, Part 1

Restoring the Glory Days

After buying the Franklin Theatre, it was really only the beginning.

“One of my memories is I was bringing a prospective donor in and me and a colleague were trying to straighten it out a bit beforehand and one of the commodes upstairs started running over and was running down the staircase and I heard my colleague let out little stream. She had just stepped on a mouse,” said Pearce. “You couldn’t walk on stage because it was caving in.”

The theater shut down in 2007 and it would take four years to reopen.

And another $6.6 million. All of it from donations.

“It came from a community who really cared,” said Pearce. “We got every gift from 88 cents to over $2 million.”

Staying Alive

There was a reason the theatre needed saving in the first place.

“We feel like we have to save it every single day,” said Pearce. “We have more income than most old [historic] theatres but not enough to run it.”

“The thing the community can do to ensure it is saved for future generations is come to a movie,
come to a concert. Just use and enjoy the theatre.”

“One thing that surprised me the most was it seemed the minute that marquee got lit and there was something going on it was almost like downtown came to life at night.”

Indeed. The Franklin Theatre brings life to downtown in the same way the community brought life back to an aging Main Street icon.

Today, The Franklin Theatre hosts notable musicians, as well as shows movies, hosts local theater programs and many local organizations use the space for events. See the calendar of events at The Franklin Theatre here.

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