As readers became aware in a recent edition of our newspaper, Lowe’s audiovisual company — called Stage AVL — has signed a long-term lease for the historic structure that is best remembered as a popular movie house managed for decades by the late Calvin Harvey.
Located beside the Village Green Town Center, the fine old building’s purpose has been relegated to little more than storage since 2010 when a community theater group disbanded after having leased the facility for its own productions.
Gone but not forgotten as a familiar face in the chronicles of Cleveland’s entertainment industry, the outdated theater — amid its slowly growing collection of dust and webs — was a lost treasure awaiting the keys of discovery. Surely, it was just a matter of time before a visionary like Lowe latched hold of opportunity by breathing life into a grand old part of the past that has laid dormant for far too many years.
Once renovated, the new space will be renamed The Venue Creekside, yet some of the work will remain true to the building’s legacy. A former ticket and concession area will remain intact and backlit framing that once held movie posters will remain affixed to newly painted walls.
The new business will be available to host banquets, conferences, concerts and plays. Its original seating capacity — dating back to popular matinees and busy nights as the Village Theater — is expected to remain at 299.
Renovations should be completed in October. Some of the work includes “blacking out” the industrial metal ceiling of the old auditorium, installation of new hardwood flooring and the addition of effect lighting and audiovisual equipment. Collectively, transforming the Village Theater into a modern facility should cost about $100,000.
Even at $1 million, such a project would be worthwhile; at least, for those who could afford the investment. All should remember. This is more than just a building. Bricks and mortar alone do not tell its story of a community and the people who called it home. This is history. To see it as anything less does an injustice to generations of moviegoers who entered its doors, walked its lobby’s worn carpet and partook of candy, popcorn and Cokes for a pricing of less than the ticket.
We are especially pleased by the selection of renovation contractor.
He is David May III of 3-D Construction, a talented visioneer himself who is no stranger to local history and the people, places and events that shaped its generational themes. Calling the Village Theater “... an exciting piece of Cleveland’s history,” May told Cleveland Daily Banner staff writer Christy Armstrong he is proud to be a part of this project.
Frankly, we could not be happier. While Lowe’s enthusiasm is bubbling at being able to contribute to the “spirit of growth” in and around the downtown area, we are reminded of another spirit. It is that which aptly describes our community, “The City with Spirit.”
Towns that forget their past do a disservice to the generations that shaped their present.
Towns that ignore the old days have little from which to learn when molding the new.
Towns that let buildings decay and memories die have only themselves to blame when grandchildren and their grandchildren ask, “Why?”
Towns that lack a spirit of their own are towns that long ago turned a deaf ear to birthrights like home and heritage.
Long live lost treasures like the Village Theater. Though your face is changing and your name is reborn, may your memory softly glow in the warm hearts of those who embraced your everlasting charm.
We credit the Lowes and Mays of this community.
They are men of a common ground. They are messengers of a shared ideal.
Thanks to them, the Village Theater lives and breathes and gives us comforting reminders of an endearing and golden day gone by.