(See photos.) ANTIOCH THEATRE SEEKS COMMUNITY HELP FOR RENOVATION (6/20/2014 by Jill Tatge-Rozell, Kenosha News) ANTIOCH — The owner of the Antioch Theatre and an investor trying to save the iconic movie venue are reaching out to the general public to raise the final $65,000 needed to complete a $750,000 renovation.
Owner Cindy Kottke, faced with deferred maintenance issues and outdated technology, shuttered the theater May 16.
Investor Tim Downey, a member of the founding team behind the Great Wolf Lodge resort chain, said the theater survived prohibition, the Great Depression and World War II. He said he believes, with the right backing, it can also survive the digital age.
“Movie theaters are like heartbeats for small downtowns,” Downey said. “When a downtown theater closes, fewer people visit and other businesses suffer. too. I just didn’t want to see that happen.”
Downey and Kottke said the goal of the renovation project is to preserve the historical character of the building while transforming it into a financially viable, modern theater.
The building dates back to 1919, when it opened as a live performance house called Majestic Theatre. In 1924, it was converted to a single-screen movie theater and was renamed Antioch Theatre. “One of the great things about this theater is it originally opened as a live theater,” Downey said. “So we are going to keep the stage. We will be able to offer live events, such as comedy nights, live performances, speakers and community events and benefits.”
Kottke said they will also preserve the balcony seating. “Moviegoers love the balcony,” Kottke said. “We are going to keep it pretty much the same.”
Downey added that previous renovations did not keep the history, or future, of the theater in mind. The lobby, for example, needs attention, he said. “There are glimpses of what it was,” Downey said. “I don’t want it to have a modern lobby. Hopefully, when it’s done, it will tell the story of what it could have, or should have, looked like in the ‘20s.”
Other upgrades will include:
— The addition of a 29-seat theater room
— All new digital projection and sound
— A new screen in the main theater, new drapery and new seats
— A new marquee and a redesigned facade
— A renovated lobby and heated front sidewalk
— Sprinkler fire protection
Downey said digital projection will allow the theater to show first-run releases and broadcast special events. The smaller theater will allow for the transfer of a movie onto a smaller screen in the latter weeks of its run so a new release can be featured on the larger screen.
“The additional screen is critical for successful operation in the future,” Downey said. “Movie distributors require theaters to hold films for two to four weeks. However, as a movie’s attendance drops during its run, a single-screen theater is burdened with little income while it waits for the next new release.”
Downey and Kottke have energized the community and the village of Antioch to get behind the renovation. Raymond Chevrolet, Something Sweet Confectionery, Great Lakes Credit Union, the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, and an anonymous benefactor have pledged $150,000 toward the project cost.
The village of Antioch will lend the project $200,000, to be repaid by a village-wide movie ticket tax. Another $35,000 will be raised through the sale of granite sidewalk stars and other personalized promotions.
Downey said they are hoping to raise the final $65,000 in pledges with the help of “Kickstart,” a website used by those seeking donations for worthwhile projects. The online pledges will only be accepted if the funding goal is met by the July 31 deadline.
A minimum pledge of $1 can be made through the website, www.kickstarter.com, by searching for Save the Antioch Theatre project. Donations of at least $10 and upwards of $1,000 come with rewards ranging from free movie tickets and popcorn to seat sponsorship plaques and personalized glass wall stars that will hang in the theater.
The pledge drive went live June 16. As of Wednesday afternoon, 59 people had made pledges totaling nearly $5,500.
To make a donation pledge toward the Antioch Theatre renovation project:
— Visit www.antiochtheatre.com and follow the link to the “Kickstarter” website.
— Call Tim Downey or Cindy Kottke at (847) 395-0425
The pledge will only be collected as a donation if the $65,000 fundraising goal is met by July 31.