A tune-up for the Theatre

CALUMET – The Calumet Theatre is more than 100 years old, and it’s showing its age in many places, but some of the wear-and-tear problems are about to be fixed.

Laura Miller, theatre executive director, said the theatre opened in 1900, and the city hall portion of the building opened in 1886.

The theatre is owned by the village, and at the last Calumet Village Council meeting on April 23, Miller presented a list of 29 items she and the theatre board of directors would like to remedy soon. The list includes addressing the deteriorated varnish on the four entrance doors, and worn-out paint on the display case in front of the building. Locking mechanisms for doors are needed, and several marble steps are cracked and need to be repaired.

The members of the village council approved allowing work to begin on the list of repair projects.

Miller said she thinks it’s been decades since work has been done on the entrance doors and display case.

“We believe it’s been over 40 years,” she said. “There wasn’t the funding to do it.”

Miller said there is funding available now for the list of projects because of the success of the theatre’s two annual Grand Raffles.

“We netted $15,000 each year,” she said.

However, Miller said some of that $30,000 has already been spent on some improvements.

“We want to use some of the remainder of that money to spruce up the area for our patrons and visiting artists,” she said.

Miller said she thinks a portion of the 29 repair and improvement projects can be done over the summer and autumn.

“One-third should be done by the end of the year,” she said. “A lot of it is weather dependent.”

Miller said about seven of the projects can get started right away.

“We have contractors and estimates ready to go on those,” she said.

Miller said there was a renovation done on part of the theatre in the 1990s, and theatre staff and volunteers are constantly fixing the theatre seats and toilets.

One of the more significant improvements Miller and the board of directors would like accomplished is the installation of an elevator, because many of the theatre’s patrons have difficulty walking up the steps to the ballroom and balcony. Some functions in the past, such as wedding receptions, couldn’t use the ballroom because there is no elevator.

Plans have been found for the installation of an elevator in the space now occupied by a restroom in the city hall lobby, Miller said, but there’s some uncertainty about the plans.

“We don’t know what engineering company did that,” she said.

Miller said it may take up to 10 years for an elevator to be installed in the theatre, but it will be a big improvement.

“We’re really excited about this elevator approval,” she said. “That will enhance many things.”

The June 1 annual theatre gala will be the fundraising kickoff for the elevator project, Miller said.

“All the proceeds from this gala will (be) the seed money for that,” she said.

Miller said she and the theatre board members are excited to be finally getting the repair and improvement projects started, because doing so will improve the theatre experience for both visitors and artists.

“That’s going to be very important for us,” she said.