ELY – The doors will open and popcorn will be served Thanksgiving night for a special open house event at Ely’s Historic State Theater. The public will have their first look at the …
ELY – The doors will open and popcorn will be served Thanksgiving night for a special open house event at Ely’s Historic State Theater. The public will have their first look at the restored landmark during an open house from 5-8 p.m.on Nov. 28.
Abandoned and in failing condition for a dozen years, complete with leaking ceilings and random pigeon homes, the theater and adjacent building complex were purchased by Alley A Realty, and a five-year refurbishing project was initiated.
With millions of dollars worth of renovations complete, the State Theater is under the management of a newly-created nonprofit group.
David Wigdahl, chair of the group’s board of directors, said last week at the Ely City Council meeting that residents and visitors alike are invited to come out during the city’s traditional Thanksgiving community night for guided tours, and to get a sneak peak at what’s been accomplished and what’s coming at the theater.
“We are working hard to get your State Theater open again,” he said. “We’re going to have it all lit up and decorated for the holidays with fresh popcorn, and the entire board will be giving a behind-the-scenes look with guided tours.”
The open house will also include live music, with Max Thompson playing both the keyboard and accordion. “There will be several other surprises, but I don’t want to spill the beans too much,” Wigdahl said.
He did reveal that a new print by Jim Brandenburg that depicts what the theater used to look like will be unveiled. “Prints will be for sale,” he added.
In addition to major exterior repairs, that included a new roof, new air conditioning and heating units, upgraded electrical work, foundational stabilization of the building along with the rehabilitation and re-lighting of the theater marquee, the inside of the theater was completely overhauled.
The interior of the main theater includes exactly 287 seats, providing for more legroom. The stage was extended to accommodate concerts and stage shows. The nonprofit group is planning its first major production, a performance of The Quiltmaker’s Gift, scheduled for Jan. 24-26.
Wigdahl said the group’s vision for the State Theater “is a cultural hub of films, arts entertainment and learning that cultivates a vibrant, health community.”