This story first appeared in the March 31 issue of the Community Voice. For your personal subscription, call 270-384-9454.
There has been a lot of work already done on the Columbian Theater. Adair County School Superintendent Dr. Pamela Stephens, along with project manager Doug Beard, has been spearheading a host of renovations to try and bring the facility back to its old glory. However, Stephens and Beard will be quick to say there is a lot more work to be done over the next few months, in anticipation for a December opening.
“I want to let people know this is going to happen,” Stephens said. “We are probably looking right at a $500,000 in renovations to get things done. We are we excited about getting to share this with everyone. We are trying to look at the expense of it as well, but so far that is doable. We will be coming forward with a donor campaign because we have had many people reach out and ask about that.
“It is my commitment to the board, and especially to the school system, we are not taking anything away from the children to do this facility. This project includes the children and that is part of the motivation.”
Stephens signed a lease agreement for the theater with Dr. Ben Arnold last fall for $1. Her vision is to have a fine arts center to be used by district students, Lindsey Wilson College and the community.
The Columbian Theater opened in 1947 and was thought to have one of the largest screens in the south. In this proposal, Stephens sees the theater’s lights being turned on again for multiple uses, including drama events, choral performances, art displays, and special community occasions.
Beard said he is very pleased after talking with contractors with the news the theater is actually in pretty good structural shape.
“The majority of the work so far is cosmetic,” Stephens said. “We are doing some work in the bathrooms, doing some painting. The big- gest expense, as of now, is the lighting and sound system, and streaming capabilities.”
Some work will be done to fix the ceiling in the theater auditorium. Instead of a rounded front to the stage, Beard said it would be shaped more like a square and come straight out. It is expected to be 600 square feet in size and reach out to where the first and second row of seats are currently located. He also said some work will be done to the area behind the stage. The seating capacity is to be just under 300.
“We are still shooting for Christmas for our first event,” said Stephens.
By Scott Wilson