Theater project attempting to revitalize, preserve Everett

A project aimed at revitalizing and preserving Everett by transforming a nearly century-old theater is underway, with demolition at the site starting last week.

There are plans to renovate the theater on West Main Street and convert it to a community arts center, which could possibly host film showings, bowling, dinner theater and other live entertainment.

The rear of the site, which included dilapidated hotel rooms connected to the theater, has been mostly torn down. Reimagine Everett, the organization spearheading the project, has plans to also tear down Granatelli’s bar, adjacent to the theater.

“I was born and raised in Everett,” Teresa Burd, chairwoman of Reimagine Everett, said. “We just couldn’t imagine Everett without the marquee on Main Street. And we noticed the degradation of the building, and we’re worried.”

“We really just wanted to save that building that’s been there, that’s been an icon in Everett,” she added. “Right now, Everett is in dire straits for business and pulling people in. So we wanted something that was going to be a draw for visitors and also bring something to the community.”

Once the rooms and bar are torn down, Burd said the plan is to build temporary walls to cover the open sides of the theater and to fix the roof before engineers evaluate the site.

Demolition is expected to be completed in about six weeks. The nonprofit had to focus on demolition due to the rainfall, Burd noted.

The hope is to have the community arts center open by 2023, in celebration of the theater’s 100-year anniversary.

Burd said she and her husband had discussed renovating the theater for years.

Bedford County Commis­sioner Barry Dallara described the project as a way to help keep the local community viable.

“It’s my understanding that the intent of the group is to ensure the theater can be restored to a condition that would be a community attraction,” Dallara said. “It certainly has the potential to provide positive, wholesome events for all age groups of the community.”

The chairwoman of Reimagine Everett estimates the project will cost upward of $1 million. While the borough will donate $100,000 for demolition, the Reimagine Everett board will also seek grant and fundraising opportunities.

The theater was founded by the Stuckey brothers, John and Asa, in 1923 as the borough’s first motion picture theater. It was sold to Theodore Grance in 1945.

From 2003-09, the theater operated as a bar and dinner dance venue before closing its doors in 2009, according to history documents shared with the Mirror.

Last September, Re­imagine Everett took ownership of the property. The nonprofit group was formed in August to assist with economic development of the Everett area. Save the Everett Theater is its first project.

The theater renovation project succeeds the 2017 amphitheater construction at Tenley Park, also led by Burd and her husband.